Jazz, R&B, Piano and vocals…. Described by many as the funkiest band in the city that has the funkiest musicians in the world, Jon Cleary and The Absolute Monster Gentlemen are the gem in the NOLA crown. A four piece riot of gospel harmonies and foundation rocking grooves – a southern soul band like no other. Running the full gamut from second line street beats to old school rhythm and blues, the party is propelled by Cleary’s vocals and dazzling piano chops.
As Rolling Stone’s David Fricke summed up, “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 [band, the Absolute Monster] Gentlemen.”
A respected session and sideman, British blues pianist and composer Jon Cleary has worked with rock, blues, and soul artists like Bonnie Raitt, Maria Muldaur, Taj Mahal, and Eric Clapton. Raised on blues, jazz, and soul records, his love of New Orleans blues and jazz in particular took him across the ocean after he graduated from art school.
Upon arriving in New Orleans, Cleary started hanging out at one of the city’s most storied venues . He soaked up the bar’s atmosphere, realizing that blues piano was his calling; the house he lived in had a piano, on which he spent hours practicing. He became a side performer, playing with bluesmen like Smokey Johnson, James Singleton, and George Porter. One of these gigs included Walter “Wolfman” Washington in the audience; taken with Cleary‘s playing, Washington offered Cleary a spot in his own band. Cleary played with Washington for two years, continuing his introduction to more sophisticated forms of R&B and blues, as well as incorporating Latin influences into his style.