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Jon Cleary & The Absolute Gentlemen

Mon, Feb 8, 2016

$29.50 ($6 Handling Fee Included) Minimum Donation All purchases are nonrefundable/nonexchangeable.

The Pacific Jazz Institute welcomes, for one night only, Grammy-nominated New Orleans funk master, pianist and singer Jon Cleary. Band members are Jon Cleary (keys and vocals), Cornell Williams (bass and vocals), and AJ Hall (drums and vocals). Show time Monday at 7:30pm, doors open at 6:00pm.

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Beyond Cleary’s 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 for GoGo Juice – thus bringing symmetry to Cleary’s recording of an entire album of Toussaint songs, entitled Occapella, which garnered rave reviews in 2012.

At first glance, it seems entirely reasonable that GoGo Juice, the latest album from Jon Cleary has been nominated for a GRAMMY in the Best Regional Roots Music Album category. When GoGo Juice was released this summer, the New York Times called Cleary "...a singer-songwriter and pianist in tune with the pulse of New Orleans” and the album was cited as “another expert mix of strutting party-starters and beseeching soul anthems, sung in an agreeably raspy voice." American Songwriter’s reviewed the album suggesting, “It’s all about groove married to instantly memorable melodies and ensemble playing on par with anything from the Meters, Dr. John or the Neville Brothers, high praise indeed.”

The fact of the matter is that Cleary, a much-lauded practitioner and propagator of New Orleans’ singular musical tradition wasn’t born in the Crescent City’s Charity Hospital. Cleary didn’t grow up in the Lower Ninth Ward nor, for that matter, in the Garden District, the French Quarter or across the river in Algiers. Cleary was born and raised in Cranbrook. This Cranbrook isn’t even in Louisiana, let alone the United States; it’s a tiny village in Kent, South East England.

While the circumstances of his birth and upbringing would seem to relegate him to outsider status, Cleary is very much part of the fabric of New Orleans’ musical life and has been for quite some time. He arrived in New Orleans at the age of 17 and immediately found his way to the Maple Leaf bar that he described in a recent NPR interview as being "very funky, full of eccentric characters and ne'er-do-wells.” He was soon accepted by those “ne’er do-wells” and became a disciple of the late James Booker, subject of the prize winning documentary film Bayou Maharajah.

Concurrent with pursuing his own solo career, Jon went on to work with numerous US-based blues and roots greats including B.B. King, Ryan Adams, Eric Burdon and, most notably, Taj Mahal and Bonnie Raitt. When she was made aware of the fact that GoGo Juice is a GRAMMY contender, Raitt expressed admiration for Cleary who had been her keyboard player for a decade. ‘'Jon Cleary is one of the most hellaciously talented purveyors of modern New Orleans inspired funk,” commented the singer/guitarist whose own work earned her 26 GRAMMY nominations including 10 wins. “GoGo Juice is another amazing collection of great originals. Long a legendary pianist/singer/songwriter, there’s no one like him and I’m thrilled he’s getting this much-deserved recognition.” Relix called GoGo Juice “home to some of Cleary's most notable playing and writing to date.” That review noted of Clearly, “New Orleans is in good hands with this expat.”

GoGo Juice was recorded at Dockside Studio in Maurice, Louisiana and in Cleary’s own Funk Headquarters studio in New Orleans’ Bywater neighborhood. The album was produced by John Porter who has worked with B.B. King, Keb Mo, Ryan Adams, Los Lonely Boys, The Smiths and Roxy Music. Porter, who is also English, has numerous GRAMMY-awarded albums to his credit and has been working with Cleary since the late 1990s. GoGo Juice was released this past August on the independent FHQ label. All of the songs in its tunestack were written by Cleary including the evocative “Bringing Back The Home*,” an homage to his adopted city in the post-Katrina era.

Cleary who has just finished a string of dates with guitarist and jazz great John Scofield, expressed great humility regarding GRAMMY recognition for GoGo Juice, commenting, “As someone who moved halfway around the world after leaving school to dive in the deep end of New Orleans R&B, it’s a privilege, half a lifetime and a million gigs later, to be representing the city I love and that's given me so much. Any credit due for this Grammy nomination I’d like to share with the talented musicians who played on the record and I think they’d agree when I say that we're just standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before us here in the city that changed the way popular music is played around the world: New Orleans, Louisiana.”


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