Pale Afternoon

by Jim Duffy

Released 2015
Three Dots Records
Released 2015
Three Dots Records
This is moody and bouncy instrumental music, each track aiming at a specific feeling, Jim Duffy leading a small group from his 1960s Wurlitzer electric piano, drawing upon myriad influences with little fuss and a lot of fervor.
NOTES
Jim Duffy, a Brooklyn-based composer and keyboardist, announces the release of "Pale Afternoon," his third full-length collection of moody and bouncy instrumental music.

The eleven tracks on "Pale Afternoon" each aim for a specific feeling. Duffy leads a small group from his 1960s Wurlitzer electric piano. Dennis Diken of the world- famous Smithereens is on drums, Paul Page, who tours the world with Ian Hunter, plays bass, and Lance Doss, who has toured and recorded …
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Mood Lit

by Jim Duffy

Released 2009
Three Dots Records
Released 2009
Three Dots Records
Moody and bouncy instrumental pop tunes featuring a 1960s Wurlitzer electronic piano and a swinging combo, recorded in warm analog sound.
NOTES
With "Mood Lit," his second full-length release of moody and bouncy instrumental pop tunes, Jim Duffy moves closer to the front of the stage but remains off-center.

Duffy leads a small combo on piano and an early-1960s Wurlitzer electronic piano. Reference points include AM radio pop music, detective dramas, lachrymose partings at the Pan Am terminal, twilight falling on kitchenettes, lounge acts in their third set.

Duffy pays homage along the way, but he has paid off some musical debts and is doing more original research. He’s going for more specific feelings. "Stevie Says” may produce sensations of an old Movie of the Week on color TV, but this is not a retro affair. "Mood Lit" is sincere to a fault.

The sound is leaner than on Duffy’s first full-length release, "Side One," and the combo may be swinging a little harder. On drums is Dennis Diken of the world-renowned Smithereens. On bass guitar is Paul Page, who records and tours with Ian Hunter. On guitars and lap steel is Lance Doss, who has recorded and toured with John Cale.

The combo convened in a basement studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sound engineer Greg Duffin (no relation) recorded the group on 16-track tape, to get that tube-warm analog sound. Duffin is often seen working the mixing desk on Regina Spektor’s world tours.

"We recorded it very quickly, over a long period of time," Duffy explains, in his typically obtuse manner.

Duffy and the combo stretch out within the three-minute pop structure, allowing room for the unexpected. They perform with minimal fuss and a lot of fervor, starting with a head-turning version of Mose Allison's "Look Here," then moving through eleven original tunes. On "Early Germ," they work the area where twang meets soul. On "Free Formation," the combo demonstrates that they came up through the rock basements. “The Night Clerk,” is an eerie audio portrait. Then, on “Our Next Guest,” the combo suddenly appears in matching gaudy blazers. What does he think he’s up to?

"If you don't notice it's instrumental, so much the better," Duffy says.

Kevin Kendrick of A Big Yes and a Small No adds an almost-too-intimate vibraphone part to “If You Insist.” On "Memento Mori," Mac Gollehon’s compact, punchy brass arrangement puts the tune over the goal line. Claire Daly’s baritone sax on “Balladeer” supplies a bright moment. On the title tune, "Mood Lit," Duffy makes an obligatory and "almost involutary," as he describes it, nod to Burt Bacharach.

Jim Duffy has performed or recorded with the rock-and-roll pioneers Wanda Jackson and Freddie “Boom Boom” Cannon, as well as the Bottle Rockets, Reid Paley, Tandy, the Fleshtones, Speedball Baby, Bone-Box, the Damnwells and many others. Duffy played keyboards in the band Martin’s Folly and sometimes still does. Once upon a time, he played bass guitar in the Boston band Rods and Cones.

The Jim Duffy Combo, the core group of Duffy, Diken, Page and Doss, plus the occasional special guest, can sometimes be heard at the Lakeside Lounge on Avenue B in Manhattan and at other venues in the New York area.

Is "Mood Lit" good "make-out" music? Dim the lights and see for yourself.

-- Derek Shackwell-Smith
St. Cleve Chronicle



Pop-jazz. Jazz-pop. The labels are mere shorthand for a sort of music that's tough to describe. The terms can often be applied in a pejorative sense, used to describe (and dismiss) disposable music. But that's not at all what we have here. "Mood Lit," the second album from Brooklyn pianist Jim Duffy, is a delight from start to finish.

The dozen tracks serve up sprightly melodies that swing. Duffy is aided and abetted by a small combo featuring The Smithereens‘ Dennis Diken on the trap kit, plus Paul Page on bass and Lance Doss on guitars (the latter two are also members of Ian Hunter's band). The lineup is the same as on Duffy's first release, 2005's "Side One." On "Mood Lit," Duffy drives strong, snappy compositions via acoustic piano or a Wurlitzer 200A.

There are some production flourishes -- such as a vibes, horns and glockenspiel -- but "Mood Lit" is an incredibly organic disc. The songs sound as if they're being played right in your living room. The melodies are strong enough that vocals aren't missed; on the contrary, the arrangements would suffer if anything else were added. Note-perfect arrangements throughout make "Mood Lit" that unique disc that's perfect as a backdrop to cocktails and entertaining and highly engaging enough to reward careful listening. Musical touchstones lean in a jazz-for-all-the-people direction: hints of Brubeck, Bacharach and Guaraldi are there, and there's even a subtle nod to the Ides of March's "Vehicle," a 1970 Billboard pop hit. Another tune kicks off with an ambience that calls to mind Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" but heads immediately in another (equally pleasing) direction.

Sometimes instrumental albums suffer from repetition or a dearth of ideas. "Mood Lit" finishes as strong as it starts, and doesn't sag in the middle either. Pointing out a highlight would only do disservice to the other eleven tracks. Highly recommended.

-- Bill Kopp
Musoscribe.com

It's rare that I'll review an instrumental album. But this one hit my sweet spot -- and with Dennis Diken (Smithereens) on the drums, I figured it was worth looking into. Jim Duffy gathered a small jazz combo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to put this lounge pop confection together. Included are Paul Page (bass) and Lance Doss (guitars) from Ian Hunter's band. If you enjoy Burt Bacharach or The Vince Guaraldi Trio, you will really love this album. The keyboards are where Jim shines on every track here. You'll hear a bit of a Stevie Wonder styled melody on the tribute "Stevie Says." Occasionally it takes a detour -- "Memento Mori" is one of those songs where the horns take you on a journey, and you don't miss vocals one bit here. Every song tends to flow in a different direction, so unlike other jazz pop albums I've heard it doesn't get stylistically repetitive. Superior production and mixing work here balances out the players, so no one overshadows the other and the combo plays like a well-oiled (organic) machine. Overall a very enjoyable album, and a big cut above your average instrumentals heard in Starbucks. So put down the coffee and enjoy a cocktail with Jim Duffy.

-- Aaron Kupferberg
Powerpopaholic.com

Duffy composes utterly charming pieces for the piano and organ. Duffy's pieces are instantly attractive, but the writing is sophisticated enough to attract exacting ears. Another fine album from a guy who knows how to make good music.

-- Aiding and Abetting, November 2009

That bit about "twilight falling on kitchenettes" is totally true. Check out "Balladeer" for a super smooth, but very mobile number.

-- WLUR FM, Lexington, Va.

Soundtrack music for home furnishing shopping, detective dramas, and under-70 mph car chases. piano/keyboard-led concept pop. if nothing else, do your voice breaks with any of these tracks!

-- Sam Silver, WESU FM, Middletown, Conn.

Side One

by Jim Duffy

Released 2004
Three Dots Records
Released 2004
Three Dots Records
Instrumental tunes that mix heavenly pop, moody themes and deep, rocking grooves.
NOTES
Jim Duffy, a Brooklyn-based keyboardist, presents a set of sparkling, original instrumental tunes. Duffy has been behind the scenes for a while now, playing in the band Martin's Folly and backing up the likes of Wanda Jackson, Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon, Eric Ambel, the Damnwells, the Bottle Rockets and many others. Now he steps out front with refreshing compositions played by some of New York's hardest-rocking musicians.

"Side One" is Duffy's first solo album. All …
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Jim Duffy
2016-01-12
Jim Duffy

Story

Here's a minor-key groove in a 6/4 beat. Jim Duffy on Wurlitzer electric piano, Dennis Diken on drums, Paul Page on bass, Lance Doss on guitar, horn arrangement and trombones by Sam Kulik, percussion by Michael Evans. Recorded and mixed by Greg Duffin at Cowboy Technical Services, Brooklyn, N.Y., mastered by Scott Hull.

This track kicks off the album "Pale Afternoon."

Jim Duffy
2016-01-12
Jim Duffy

Story

"Reverse Image" started out as an inside-out version of another tune, then it started to take on its own identity, then it wanted to be modulated to another key, and now it is its own thing. Jim Duffy on Wurlitzer electric piano, Dennis Diken on drums, Paul Page on bass, Lance Doss on guitar, Kevin Kendrick on vibraphone. Recorded and mixed by Greg Duffin, mastered by Scott Hull.

"Reverse Image" is from the album "Pale Afternoon."

Jim Duffy
2016-01-12
Jim Duffy

Story

"Tenerife" was inspired by a 1966 sculpture of that name by Robert Grosvenor. It's a sort of aerodynamic fiberglas fin that's mounted on the ceiling and pushes forward into space - into the future, really. I saw it at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and it rocked me. Do yourself a favor and look it up.

Jim Duffy on Wurlitzer electric piano, Dennis Diken on drums, Paul Page on bass, Lance Doss on guitar, Kevin Kendrick on vibraphone. Recorded and mixed by Mario Viele, mastered by Scott Hull.

"Tenerife" is from the album "Pale Afternoon."

Jim Duffy
2016-01-12
Jim Duffy

Story

"Sputare il Rospo" means "spit the toad," an Italian expression that means "get to the point, enough with the small talk, it's time to talk business." The meter is a bar of 4, then a bar of 2. When you hear this track, maybe you'll feel it in your knees and elbows.

Jim Duffy on Wurlitzer electric piano, Dennis Diken on drums, Paul Page on bass, Lance Doss on drums, Michael Evans on percussion and Claire Daly sending it over the top on baritone sax.

"Sputare il Rospo" is from the album "Pale Afternoon."

Jim Duffy
2009-10-01
Jim Duffy

Story

This tune, "Balladeer," is fairly simple, but for some reason it took a couple of years to get it to work. That change from the Bbm7 to the Dbm7 just fell out of the sky, and I was lucky to catch it. You hear Dennis Diken on drums, Paul Page on bass, Lance Doss on acoustic guitar and lap steel, yours truly on electric piano, and special guest Claire Daily on baritone saxophone, who, on a very hot Labor Day weekend, played that wonderful solo in one take.

Jim Duffy
2009-10-01
Jim Duffy

Story

This track, "Memento Mori," is from the "Mood Lit" album. The idea was to suggest a theme song from an imaginary 1970s cop show, and everybody pretty much got the concept. The basic track was done by myself on piano, Dennis Diken on drums, Paul Page on bass and Lance Doss on guitar. We then added Kevin Kendrick on vibraphone, and then Mac Gollehon came in and produced a complete horn arrangement in one shot, playing valve trombone and flugelhorn.

Jim Duffy
2009-10-01
Jim Duffy

Story

This tune, "Early Germ," features Kevin Kendrick on vibraphone. We recorded it at the end of a long tracking session, as a sort of "P.S.," and we managed to get it into the pocket, I'd say.

Jim Duffy
2005-04-05
Jim Duffy

Story

"Knowing What You Want" is the first tune I recorded for the "Side One" album. At the time, I had fallen under the spell of the great Burt Bacharach, and I'm still not sure I ever snapped out of it.

The basic track was just me on a spinet piano and Dennis Diken on bass. I added bass guitar and glockenspiel, and that nice string arrangement was by Mark Johnson. While I'm here, let me call the names of the string players: Tom Chiu (violin), Pauline Kim (violin), Ron Lawrence (viola) and Dave Eggar (cello).

The piece de resistance was when Mac Gollehon picked up his flugelhorn and really pushed this track over the top. I hope it gives you a feeling of self-determination and blue sky ahead.

Jim Duffy
2005-04-01
Jim Duffy

Story

This track, "Broken Field," is from the album "Side One," released in 2005. The idea was to suggest one of those "This Week in the NFL" highlight films, using a fancy time signature. We managed to not get sacked, thanks to sound engineer Greg Duffin.

Jim Duffy
2005-04-01
Jim Duffy

Story

"Your White Raincoat" is from the "Side One" album. The melody came to me in my sleep, and I just woke up and went over to the piano and recorded it -- I'm not kidding. That lovely lap-steel guitar is by Lance Doss, who did not know he was being recorded. As sound engineer Greg Duffin and I were finishing this track, I was messing around on the melodica. When we were mixing it, I said, "We can erase that melodica part." Greg said, "That's the best thing you've played on the whole record." And he was right.

Martin's Folly
2001-10-01
Chris Gray and Jim Duffy

Story

"Let It Burn" is from the first Martin's Folly album, self-titled. We recorded it at Coyote Studio in Brooklyn in October 1995, on the night we turned the clocks back to Eastern Standard Time. That may have contributed to the vibe on the tune.

Vocals by Chris Gray. He and I wrote the tune. I came up with the title after a trip to Brazil. I had heard the expression "Deixa Queimar," "let it burn," meaning let it go, don't fuss with it. Chris took the lyrics a step further.

Producer is Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, who also plays one of the acoustic guitars. and that fine harmonica solo is by Andy York. I play organ. I had a head cold that night, so I was able to reach the low notes on the backup vocals. 

Lyrics

When you said

What you said when you told me

You told me more than I knew

That's not much, but I missed it, I missed it all

That's OK, so you said, then you showed me

You showed me more, more than I wanted

And more, more than I needed


Let it burn, it's all I got

And I'll burn it, I'll burn it to the ground


Your hand was out, so I reached

And you pulled it, you pulled it away

Not too far, not far enough, so I grabbed it

I pulled it back, back to me

That was good, but it faded, it faded away, away from me

Is there nothing, nothing left to say?


Let it burn, it's all I've got

And I'll burn it, I'll burn down for you


Let it burn, it's all I've got

And I'll burn it, I'll burn it down for you

You're all I wanted, you're all I needed

I hope, I hope these things were true


All I have is what I got

And you can have it

You can take this from me

In return, not much, just an answer

Or even a lie, that's OK

I lie too and you know it, it's what we do

It's what we know

I take, I take these things from you


Let it burn, it's all I've got

And I"ll burn it, I'll burn it down for you

Let it burn

Martin's Folly
2001-02-01
Chris Gray and Jim Duffy

Story

"Here Lies a Fool" is one of my rare attempts at singing. If you hear it you will understand why these attempts are rare. Still, it's a pretty good tune, and I still perform it a lot, in instrumental version. I was deep into a Burt Bacharach phase. I was also thinking about Richard Manuel of The Band. To add to the Bacharach vibe, producer Eric "Roscoe" Ambel played a double-tracked trumpet melody.

This was recorded at ClubHouse Studio, Germantown, N.Y., in 1998. It appears on the second Martin's Folly album, Man, It's Cold.

Lyrics

Oh my darling, I can understand

How this must be for you

Won't you let me up, you know I love you

In your mind, it's in your hand

But if you only knew

Here lies a fool


Falling ... falling down

Crawling ... on the ground

Calling ... out to you


Don't be so rough when you play

It just won't happen that way


Oh my darling, you will understand

And this will all be true

Here lies a fool


Falling ... falling down

Crawling ... on the ground

Calling ... out to you

Falling ... such a fool


Oh my darling, you will understand

And this will all be true

Here lies a fool



Martin's Folly
2002-04-10
Chris Gray and Jim Duffy

Story

"You're a Star" is from the last (so far) Martin's Folly album, "From Hope," recorded in 2001 at Cowboy Technical Services, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Produced by Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, engineered by Grant Austin.

"Can you sing high?" "It's the only time I can sing."

Rods and Cones
2012-02-05
Rods and Cones

Story

"Round Room" by Rods and Cones, recorded in early 1983. Produced by Bob Slavin. Recorded at Sanctuary Studio, Shrewsbury, Mass.

That's Mike Napolitano on guitar, and Mike wrote the words, which were sung by Chris Kelley:

In a round room,

In a white room,

In a dead room,

I lay naked

And curse the cold.

"Round Room" was the first original tune of Rods and Cones, or at least the first one that stuck. We were jamming on a B minor, and when we came up with the break, we were so excited about it, we had to keep playing it. And the tune had that walking-down keyboard riff by Brian "Herm" Hess.

"Round Room" was produced by Bob Slavin, who was a Boston radio personality at the time. We had had a very serious meeting with Bob one night in the dressing room of the Channel. (I'm laughing as I type this.) Bob had never produced a record before, and none of us had ever been inside a real studio.

That's Chris DiNardo with the portentious opening thump on the drums, then I get my big entrance on bass. We laid down multiple vocal tracks and a couple of percussion tracks -- that's Jim DiNardo on bongos galore. Our friend Jim Smith played alto sax.

In 1983, "Round Room" made the rounds as our calling card, on cassette, and WFNX in Lynn, Mass., started playing it. In 1984, "Round Room" appeared on a vinyl compilation called "Boston Rock and Roll Anthology, Vol. 3," which was released on "Count" Joe Viglione's label, Varulven Records.

Lyrics

In a round room,

In a white room,

In a dead room,

I lay naked

And curse the cold.

Rods and Cones
2012-05-15
Rods and Cones

Story

"Education in Love," written by Rods and Cones, 1985, from the self-titled EP, produced by Alec Murphy and Rods and Cones.

For the moment, let me talk about the music track of "Education in Love," as opposed to the video. (For info on the video, please go here, and to see the video, please go here.)

In 1984 and 1985, Rods and Cones went into the studio to record our first EP. Those were still the days when vinyl records were the norm, not a boutique item, and the barriers to entry were higher. We went to Polymedia Studio, which was Alec Murphy's (RIP) 16-track studio on Newbury Street in Boston. Over the course of several weeks, we recorded most of the tracks that appeared on the self-titled EP.

Then we tried to get fancy, and we spent days and days -- and too much money -- at the even higher-tech studio SynchroSound, which was owned and operated by the Cars. Synchro was 24-track, and the technology got on top of our heads. We'd spend hours and hours trying to get a sound on the snare drum, and it sounded like a tin can. Occasionally Ric Ocasek would poke his head into the studio and see what was happening.

We were a bit discouraged, but in the midst of it all, we were gigging like crazy, and we had a new tune, "Education in Love," that Alec felt would be a good kick off to the album. So we loaded our gear back into the comfort of Polymedia and banged out "Education in Love" in just one or two takes, and as I recall, Chris Kelley did the vocal track in one take.

It's a very simple song -- the whole thing is in one chord, and the vocals are on three notes. But it has a good beat, don't you think? We put it as track No. 1 on the self-titled EP, and it got a good response at WFNX in Lynn, Mass. Then, a week or two later, WBCN started spinning it. Meanwhile, a couple of Emerson College students, Kris Hockemeyer and Peter Martinez, produced an amusing video for the song (the video positively screams "1985," and I mean that in a good way).

All in all, a nice experience. Of course, we became saddled with this song and had to play it at every gig. Though a year or two later, we played at Jack's in Cambridge and went the whole night without playing "Education," and I thought that was rather daring.

Anyway, as I now say in my best Don Kirschner voice, here is Rods and Cones' greatest hit, "Education in Love."

Lyrics

(verse)

She was an angel

Wore her hair in a bow

Eyes from the heavens

A face of someone who knows what to do.

I'd see her walking, I'd see her talking to the boys

Couldn't help but wonder if she'd show me her joys.

 

(chorus)

Your infatuation was my education in love

Your infatuation was my education in love

 

(verse)

When it started, I said love was a breeze

As time rolled by, she was hard to please

I swore off drinking and bought a new car

The day she left me, I smashed it up on my way home from the bar

 

(chorus)

Your infatuation was my education in love

Your infatuation was my education in lover

 

(verse)

She was an angel, wore her hair in a bun

Tons of money and tons of fun

I'd see her walking, I'd see her talking to the boys

Couldn't help but wonder if she'd show me her joys

 

(chorus)

Your infatuation was my education in love

Your infatuation was my education in lover

Your infatu-atu-ation was my edu-edu-cation in love

Your infatu-atu-ation was my edu-edu-cation in love

Rods and Cones
2012-05-08
Rods and Cones

Story

In 1996, Rods and Cones had been broken up for several years, but we were all still in touch. Singer Chris Kelley had gone to live in a rustic retreat in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, and he had an idea of recording some tracks with Cones guitar player Gary France. Who should play drums, bass and keyboards? One thing led to another, and before too long, we had another Rods and Cones recording session. 

On a long, snowy weekend, and feeling no pressure whatsoever, we went into a little studio and spent three days cutting basic tracks of some new ideas and some old ideas that had never reached completion. For reasons that no one can remember, we recorded under the name the Raven Cravens. It's the only case I know of where a band reunites with all its original members, and changes its name.

So with no producer, no record label and no deadlines, we just let it all hang out, and we recorded some of the best-sounding stuff we ever did. But since we weren't really a performing band anymore, none of this material ever saw the light of day.

Now that Rods and Cones are performing the occasional show, we are planning to compile and release a "best of" collection that would include some of these 1996 recordings.

This track, "Seventy-Seven Degrees," is an example of the kinds of sounds we were putting down that particular weekend. The lyrics speak for themselves.

Lyrics

Seventy-Seven Degrees

It’s 7 a.m., and I’m crawling down my back stairs to where the sun comes crashing through the trees and lights up the hot gravel.

Hot gravel in my mouth as I crawl my way back to the sun and make up for all my lost time. Time wasted. Time spent with hooligans.

As I reached the road, the tar melted in front of me. And I swam the breaststroke all the way to the interstate.

Hot tar filled my lungs as I spat my way to a brand new day. A black trail of smoke behind me, so that those who wanted to follow could have an easy trail.

And then we came upon a place. Ah, it was beautiful. You would say it was unique.

I had never shown up at sunrise for a sunset engagement. But this was one time I had to make the exception.

Beyond the benefit of a doubt, beyond all popular belief, as we climbed the incline and got just underneath, we saw what we had come to see, and we felt the presence of the ultimate…

Sunshine, blue skies and 77 degrees.

Sunshine, blue skies and 77 degrees.

Sunshine, blue skies and 77 degrees.

Audio Playlist

Latest Release: "Pale Afternoon"

 The latest release  from Jim  Duffy is "Pale Afternoon," a  collection of 11  moody and bouncy  instrumental pop tunes. Buy CDs here.

Music Available

You can find Jim Duffy's music on CD Baby.

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And on SoundCloud.

And on Spotify.

And on Amazon.

Some music tracks are now available on YouTube, both here and on the 3dotsmusic channel.

And on the music page of this blog. 

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