Legendary guitarist and three-time Grammy Award winner John Scofield comes to Bulgaria in the company of one of the most intriguing pianists and singers in contemporary blues, Jon Cleary. A bona fide aficionado of New Orleans culture, he also won a Grammy in 2016. Longtime friends, they first played together back in 2008, but had their first concerts as a duo in 2015.
This year they are doing a limited tour in Europe and USA, whose path crosses Plovdiv Jazz Fest. Unusual musical partners – one a contemporary jazz virtuoso, the other an unrivalled master of New Orleanian jazz, John Scofield and Jon Cleary create an impressive and dense set, which carries a little of both worlds: from New Orleanian music through attractive rhythm and blues to electrifying jazz.
Besides being a master jazz improvisator, American guitarist Jon Scofield covers the full spectrum of jazz guitar styles and is among the most influential jazz guitarists since the 80s. Born in Ohio, Scofield began playing guitar at the age of 11 and later graduated from Berklee College of Music. Already at the start of his career, he played in historical recordings of Miles Davis, such as Star People, Decoy, You’re Under Arrest, and also plays with Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan. He joined the Billy Cobham/George Duke Band, and in 1976 replaced Pat Metheny in the Gary Burton quartet, alongside Charles Mingus. Since then he has recorded over 30 solo albums, many of which are already classics. Scofield teaches music in New York University and is on the road roughly 200 days a year touring with his bands. In 2016 he won a Grammy for best instrumental jazz album for Past Present, and two more Grammys in 2017 for Country for Old Man.
Joining the renowned guitarist on stage at Plovdiv Jazz Fest will be the remarkable pianist and singer Jon Cleary, for whom Scofield himself says, that he’s a whole band when he plays piano.
Cleary is born in England, raised in a musical family, and since a little boy was influenced by New Orleanian funk and R&B. Enthralled by this musical culture, today he is one of its leading names.
As soon as he graduated high school, Jon Cleary hopped on the plane to New Orleans, where he remains to this day. At first, he found work at a bar, but soon enough established himself as a pianist, even though his first instrument was the guitar. The rumours of his talent quickly spread and he caught the attention of great pianists such as Dr John and Allen Toissant.
Today his music continues to reference the repertoire of classic New Orleanian pianists, but infuses within elements of soul, funk, Afro-Carribean and Afro-Cuban rhythms, gospel and many others. For more than two decades he leads his own band, The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, but continues to collaborate with different musicians, as well as playing in the bands of Taj Mahal, Dr John and Bonnie Rait.
“I haven’t heard anybody close to having absorbed so much funk and so many subtleties of the different genius piano players and guitar players and rhythms of New Orleans.”