Infinity Music Hall & Bistro
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Jon Cleary - Grammy winner, "The 9th Wonder of the World" as dubbed by Bonnie Raitt

Infinity Norfolk


Sat, March 02, 2019
Norfolk, CT
Show: 8 PM

Ticket INFO

Price: $24 - $39
On Sale: Dec 6, 2018

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Funk / R&B / Soul
Jon Cleary - Grammy winner, "The 9th Wonder of the World" as dubbed by Bonnie Raitt

Jon Cleary and The Absolute Monster Gentlemen

Coming to Infinity Hall for the first time – Grammy Award Winner Jon Cleary is an accomplished pianist as well as being a multi-instrumentalist, a vocalist and a songwriter. He is going to bring in the New Orleans Funk.

He has toured internationally in bands with Taj Mahal, John Scofield, Dr. John and Bonnie Raitt. As a songwriter, he has written and co-written songs with and for Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal.  The decade that he spent working with Raitt inspired her to unabashedly dub Cleary “the ninth wonder of the world.”

Jon Cleary

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Artist Bio


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.    

In addition to the Toussaint touch, GoGo Juice bursts, full flavor, with expert accompaniment by some of New Orleans’ top session men – including guitarist Shane Theriot, fellow keyboardist and vocalist Nigel Hall, and the Dirty Dozen horns – along with members of Cleary’s band, the Absolute Monster Gentlemen.  (In praise of Cleary’s chemistry with this latter group, the eminent music journalist David Fricke of Rolling Stone declared that “Cleary can be an absolute monster on his own, but Cleary’s full combo R&B is as broad, deep and roiling as the Mississippi River, the combined swinging product of local keyboard tradition, Cleary’s vocal-songwriting flair for moody Seventies soul and the spunky-Meters roll of his Gentlemen”).  Grammy Award-winning producer John Porter comes to GoGo Juice with a distinguished resume that includes work with the diverse likes of Elvis Costello, Carlos Santana and B. B. King, to name just a few.           

Such diversity similarly characterizes the essence of Jon Cleary’s work and career. 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.”

Cleary has gloriously achieved this desired synthesis of tradition-rooted originality and forward thinking on GoGo Juice. From the ska-inflected “Pump It Up” to the life-affirming Fellini-esque “second line” that is “Boneyard,” from the introspective confessional ballad “Step Into My Life” to the rambunctious funk of “Getcha GoGo Juice,” from the exquisitely unhurried syncopation of “Love On One Condition” to the pulsing Southern-soul feel of “Beg, Steal or Borrow,” GoGo Juice makes a deep personal statement by Cleary and shimmers as a multi-faceted jewel of variegated grooves.  

Besides the great musicianship displayed by all who play on this album, Cleary’s songwriting similarly shines.  The joyous “Getcha GoGo Juice” – “comprised entirely of lines I’ve overheard people say in New Orleans” – revels in such idiosyncratic, pithy gems of Crescent City argot as “you don’t need a license til you get caught” and “I don’t need the money, just the people I owe”. In drawing on this rich resource, Cleary followed the advice of the great New Orleans songwriter Earl King to “keep a little notepad and always jot down the trash-talking you hear on the street.”  “9 to 5, a condemnation of shallow materialism, is also based on New Orleans street language, and its title is based on a line from the traditional songs “Junker Blues” and “Junco Partner”  --  “Six months ain’t no sentence, and one year ain’t no time, they got boys in penitentiary doing nine to ninety-nine”:

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