Pin Your Spinby Jon Cleary
On his second offering for the Basin Street label, pianist, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Jon Cleary and his smoking band, the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, take their Crescent City funky groove machine and open it up to the eclectic side of nighttime party music from across the rhythm and blues, jazz, and even Afro-Caribbean spectrum. Working once more with producer John Porter, Cleary and the Gents keep the blues, soul, jazz and second-line grooves that make them such a central live attraction in New Orleans, and slick them up just a bit. These songs have an almost futuristic bent to them, which gives them an off-kilter feel as they encounter the popping rhythm section of bassist Cornell Williams, percussionist Daniel Sadownick, and drummer Raymond Weber. Cleary's voice is smooth enough for a jazzman's croon as he plies his keyboards and guitar fills in concert with Derwin Perkins' wonderful rhythm playing. Cleary is also fortunate to have singers like Perkins, Williams, and Ivan Neville helping him out, creating a chorale of male voices that cannot be topped. For fans of Moonbeam and Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Pin Your Spin is a subtler record: it's far more nocturnal and mysterious. A listen to the opening title track is excellent evidence of this. With the synth bass slowly vamping in groove, the guitars and keyboards strut in concert over skittering rimshots. The slippery "Agent 00 Funk," touches upon the layered soul vocals of Parliament as the half-step syncopated cadences put the listener in a kind of ethereal, finger-snapping, Jetsons-era frightzone. But it's on "Oh No No No," with its Cuban son piano (via a New Orleans Street party) stylings and smooth vocal harmonies that is the real surprise here. The killer "Best Ain't Good Enuf," is an acappella doo wop tune offers the view that this is really Cleary's vocal album. It's flawless, with all the right silky sheen in the harmonies. "Funky Munky Biznis," is right and tight, with dirty-ass guitars and sub-basement bass popping. The futuristic noir in "Is It Any Wonder," would seep completely out to lunch if it wasn't for the beatnik slither in its soulful vocals. For fans of basic New Orleans stomp and stroll, there is the oily "Got to Be More Careful," and the return to Cubana with a host of second-line polyrhythms in "Zulu Strut." In all, this is the most musically satisfying and adventurous outing Cleary has issued to date.
- Release Date:
- Basin Street Records
Performance CreditsJon Cleary Primary Artist,Bass,Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals
Ivan Neville Background Vocals
Phillip Manuel Background Vocals
Daniel Sadownick Percussion
Cornell Williams Bass,Vocals
Derwin "Big D" Perkins Guitar,Vocals
Technical CreditsJon Cleary Composer,Producer,Engineer
Erik Flettrich Engineer
John Porter Producer
Diana Thornton Pre-Press Layout
Mark Samuels Executive Producer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This CD is the best of Cleary's 4 CD's but all are well worth the purchase. His keyboarding can't be beat and his vocals are unique. He sounds like a true New Orleanian regardless of his roots. Don't miss the chance to see him perform in person, whether with his own band or while touring with Bonnie Rait. His entire band is superb! I can't praise them enough!!!
I can't stop listening to it! Jon Cleary perfects "a sound of his own" on this CD. Great in its entirety, but especially noteworthy is the title song "Pin Your Spin". This is my kind of music!