New Orleans funk master Jon Cleary is a 2016 Grammy award-winner for "GoGo Juice," as well as off Beat Magazine’s 2016 Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Song of the Year (for “Boneyard”), and Best Piano/Keyboardist.
If you’ve seen Bonnie Raitt live, chances are you’ve seen Jon Cleary at the piano. Raitt often calls Cleary “the ninth wonder of the world.” He is a triple threat with a salty-sweet voice, masterful piano skills and a knack for stacking infectious grooves with melodic hooks and sharp lyrics. Cleary has contributed to Grammy Award-winning albums by the likes of Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King and Taj Mahal.
Beyond his considerable skills as a tunesmith he is equally renowned around the globe as an accomplished keyboardist and guitarist and a deeply soulful vocalist. Cleary’s thirty-five years of intensive hands-on work on the Crescent City scene has made him a respected peer of such New Orleans R&B icons as Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. Toussaint, in fact, took time from his busy schedule to write most of the horn arrangements – thus bringing symmetry to Cleary’s recording of an entire album of Toussaint songs, entitled "Occapella," which garnered rave reviews in 2012. In addition to the Toussaint touch, GoGo Juice bursts, full flavor, with expert accompaniment by some of New Orleans’ top session men, along with members of Cleary’s band, the Absolute Monster Gentlemen. While thoroughly steeped in the classic Crescent City keyboard canon – from Jelly Roll Morton to Fats Domino to Art Neville, James Booker, and beyond – Cleary uses that century’s worth of pianistic brilliance as a point of departure to forge his own unique and eclectic style. As heard in the widely varied grooves and textures of GoGo Juice, Cleary’s sound incorporates such far-flung influences as ‘70s soul, gospel music, funk, Afro-Caribbean (and especially Afro-Cuban) rhythms and more. “I love New Orleans R&B, “ Cleary explains. “I’m a student of it – and a fan, first and foremost. But there’s little point in just going back and re-recording the old songs – although on my live solo shows, especially in New Orleans, I make a point of trying to keep the fast- disappearing tradition of the R&B pianist/singer alive by playing the old songs that are in danger of being forgotten. As for recording, however, I think the greatest New Orleans R&B records are the ones that built on what went before but also added something new. By writing new songs you get to channel all the music you absorb through your own individual set of filters – and the fun is in seeing what emerges.”
Joining Jon on stage will be Cornell Williams on bass and A.J. Hall on drums.