Bowlive V: Night IV – Soulive feat. Jon Cleary and John Scofield @ The Brooklyn Bowl (03.18.14)
As the members of Soulive settled in over the years, their Brooklyn Bowl based annual residency, Bowlive, has became as institutional as the music itself. During the first week, the audience was privileged enough to enjoy the musical styling of vocalists Nigel Hall and Nicki Bluhm, turntablist DJ Logic, rocking guitarists Warren Haynes and Eddie Roberts, legendary bassist George Porter, Jr., and house band, The Shady Horns. Full band performances and collaborations by Leroy Justice and The London Souls added to the marvel. Every song sailed down the middle of the stage, rolled by the trio with the consistency of a pro bowler. This consistency, of course, has been the key to Soulive’s longevity.
“When Soulive hit the stage, I was surprised at how they constantly matched the energy from the previous nights. I’m always reminded of the 80’s power trio bands that filled a room with just three musicians and am amazed how these guys do it. A modern day jazz/funk power trio like no other.” ~ R.G.
Commencing with their second week of Bowlive V, Neal Evans, Alan Evans and Eric Krasno have put together another long list of talented musicians to keep us satiated for the remaining five nights. Over the next few evenings our musical senses will be overloaded with the likes of Joe Russo, Susan Tedeschi, Jon Cleary, Bill Evans, Alan Evans Trio, DMC (of Run DMC), Marco Benevento, Sonya Kitchell, and WOLF! Featuring Scott Metzger. You can also count on some surprise guests.
For night IV, Soulive made all the right moves, showering the audience in musical genius, making sure no one would regret coming out on a Tuesday night. With Jon Cleary and John Scofield as the special guests last night, it was the perfect kick-off for the second week. And what a kick-off it was. It was truly stimulating. Soulive and their guests performed one long extended set with Jon Cleary opening to a packed house at 8:30pm.
“Notes from the front line, my first encounter with Bowlive! Thank you Soulive and Brooklyn Bowl for making our first Brooklyn Bowl/Bowlive experience a very memorable one. From the moment we arrived, we were welcomed by the staff and had a great pre-show dinner, followed by the acquisition of the highly coveted John Warner Bowlive poster, which are limited to 15 posters per evening. After seeing some fellow Pittsburghers and Jam Cruisers, we secured our spots on the platform area with a killer view of the stage.” ~ M.M & L.M.
Jon Cleary Set
I Feel So Damn Good I’ll Be Glad When I Get the Blues
Cheating On You
When You Get Back, We Gonna Cha Cha All Night Long
The Crave (an emotionally complex piece.)
I Get The Blues When It Rains
Unknown (Boogie Woogie Tune)
The venue was packed with devoted music fans. This wasn’t your average audience who was there to drink and chat it up with their friends. Almost every eye was fixated on the stage as Jon Cleary opened the night with a solo piano set showcasing his vested studies in the music of New Orleans. Having moved from Kent, England to study the music of New Orleans, Jon Cleary is arguably the best out there right now. A disciple of Professor Long Hair and James Booker, Cleary’s voice is salty-sweet and he is a master of the piano, organ and guitar. You may know him best as a member of Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal‘s bands and his own group, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen. With his blend of jazz, blues, soul, gospel, and honky-tonk, Cleary epitomizes New Orleans music. His set was evidence of his extreme caliber of musical knowledge.
“Jon Cleary started the night of music off right, as I was immediately intrigued by his silky smooth voice and Deniro-esque looks. His “Big Easy” style was quite a cover for his British heritage. This new musical discovery for me had me Googling his discography this morning to see what else I could find out about this man!” ~ M.M. & L.M.
“Having just booked our trip to Nola for jazziest the night before I could not have asked for a better punctuation. Watching Jon Cleary play keys in such classic New Orleans style blew us away. I could only wonder if Neal Evans was peeking down the stairs to watch this guy.” ~ R.G.
One in 7
What You See Is What You Get
Something’s Got A Hold on Me
Walk With Me
Don’t Need No Doctor
Turn It Out
Encore: Get Back
Last night, there wasn’t three sets or even two sets, there was one long extended set which ended promptly at midnight. Soulive, The Shady Horns, Jon Cleary and John Scofield would command the stage with various genres of blues and jazz, filling every second of the evening with prodigious music. The set started out with the members of Soulive performing “Shaheed,” The Beatles‘ tune, “Come Together,” and “One in 7.” During “Come Together,” the audience sang along with heads bobbing and the stage lights flashing, while “One in 7” was played with a delightful intro. It was also during this time that there was some malfunction with Neal’s keyboards. Times like these can break a musical moment but Alan Evans picked up the slack by drumming his heart out while the chords on his brother’s rig were being fixed. When the audience heard the rejuvenation of the bass keys, it was on!
“Upon completion of Jon Cleary‘s set, Soulive took the stage, embracing me with their soul soothing sounds and reminding me that Neal Evans is a true bad-ass! Watching him lay down those bass lines with his left hand as his right hand plays the Hammond chords was literal music to my ears! The Beatles‘ cover “Come Together” got the crowd singing along, but you could see the anxious anticipation for the arrival of John Scofield, who was the special guest of the evening. Having the pleasure of watching such musical prowess and interplay in such close proximity was truly a treat.” ~ M.M.
“For Granted” and “Cannonball” were both played with the help of The Shady Horns. Ryan Zoidis (baritone/alto saxophone), Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet) and James Casey (alto saxophone/percussion) always bring a special vibe to the stage when they join Soulive. As much as they is a respected jazz trio, their vested interest in funk runs deep. The audience is blessed to have a horn ensemble in the mix of some of their favorite jazz tunes. “For Granted” was a wonderful showcase for the widely talented Ryan Zoidis, while James Casey absolutely stole the show with his performance on “Cannonball.” Eric Bloom took his liberties with his pedals and effects during his solo, as well. These two songs were meant to showcase The Shady Horns and boy, did they deliver.
“The Shady Horns were dead on, once again. Eric Bloom‘s effects-enhanced solos and James Casey killed it, as always, while Ryan continues to be the mainstay. Gonna get some more rest today so I can get back there tonight with Tedeschi!!!” ~ R.G.
The eyes say so much, and they speak even louder when a musician closes his eyes and is fully immersed in song. This happened to Krasno throughout the remainder of the set. When Scofield came on the stage, Krasno was in a blissed-out state of being, eyes closed, in total focus. “What You See Is What You Get,” a major hit for the Dramatics in 1971, is Scofield’s interpretation of Detroit soul music. The beautiful thing about John Scofield is that even though he covers many old tunes, the arrangements are all his own. “Nealization,” obviously composed by Neal Evans, was a fantastic representation of his talent. Scofield played lead guitar while Krasno played rhythm. The entire crew on stage was grinning from ear to ear while the ax-men played off each other, trading delicious licks on their guitars.
“I have been a fan of John Scofield since the first time I saw him at The Bottom Line in NYC in 1980. I always mark this night as a must go. Even having stayed home from work sick, I got the energy up to get there. I was not disappointed!!! It is so obvious that Kraz uses Sco as a mentor and has used him as one of his many inspirations. As it is equally obvious how Sco is impressed with Kraz. There dueling solos blew the entire audience away. Sco has a way of making his guitar sing.” ~ R.G.
“Neal Evans is the most underrated bass player in music. His right hand gets so funky, we forget his left is leading us to the promise land.” ~ J.S.
The next two songs were songs off John Scofield‘s latest album release, Piety Street. The Rev. James Cleveland cover, “Something’s Got A Hold On Me,” was first but it was “Motherless Child,” a traditional negro spiritual born out of slavery and sung by Cleary with sharp new harmonies, that grabbed the audience’s attention.
“When I heard “Motherless Child,” I almost didn’t recognize it. I recognized that I was hearing the words of a song I knew but the arrangement was so different from the versions I’d previously heard. I am aging myself by saying this but I remember the first time I ever heard that song. I was just 15 years old. It is the hidden song within Track 11 off the Cracked Rear View album by Hootie and The Blowfish. Y’all remember that? Darius Rucker sings the song in it’s traditional A-Capella style. It was as beautiful to back then as it was now, hearing it in this new style and arrangement. I adore when modern musicians take classic songs and make them their own.” ~ K.D.
“One of my favorite moments of the evening, was when the stage was packed with everyone on the bill, Soulive, The Shady Horns, Scofield and Clearly as they played a tune that featured three part harmonies of Alan Evans, Jon Cleary and Eric “Benny” Bloom. I look forward to finding that show on Archive.org to relive that moment and sing along with them!” ~ M.M.
Then, the jazz/organ trio pulled a new maneuver out of their Bowlive bag of tricks. Jon Cleary and John Scofield remained on stage, while Soulive and The Shady Horns exited. This would be the first time in Bowlive history where the band allowed the stage to be commanded solely by the guests. It was not a coincidence that Jon Cleary and John Scofield were the two guests playing on the bill last night. Cleary is not only renowned for his ability to play the ivories, but he also composes music and went on to write and join John Scofield on the the road singing and playing with Scofield’s Piety Street Band. Needless to say, the combination of the two artists performing their song, “Walk With Me,” was electrifying and unique. Cleary sat back and watched as Scofield took a few measures for himself before joining in the song.
Through great applause, John Scofield leaned into the microphone. Referring to Cleary, he says, “This guy can play a mean piano but did you know he is an amazing guitarist, as well?” With that, Cleary jumped from the keys and moved to guitar while Krasno picked up the bass for “Don’t Need No Doctor.” Scofield continued, “John Mayer used to sing this song, but you should hear Cleary sing this song.” The audience laughed. The horns had left the stage but James Casey remained playing percussion. Casey is an amazing horn player but his talent by way of understanding sounds in percussion has grown exponentially since we saw him last year at Bowlive IV. During the song, Scofield could be seen bouncing around, pointing to the next member on stage he wanted to pull a solo.
“I want to say that my highlight was “What You See Is What You Get,” “Nealization” or “Hottentot,” but honestly I had two highlights. (1) Cleary killing it on guitar with Kraz killing it on Bass, and (2) Scofield directing traffic. Maybe it’s an elder statesman thing, but the respect that guy engenders on stage is impressive. He was absolutely in charge and was clearly enjoying going tit for tat with everyone. I especially loved when [John Scofield] made a point to give Alan some play time, because, give the drummer some! Am I right? All in all, just a beast of a show. I fucking love Bowlive.” ~ B.M.
Jon Cleary‘s turn was up and he retired backstage. The Shady Horns were also held back as Soulive and John Scofield played, “Turn It Out.” This was the time for all the jazz heads to revel in the genre. As much as Soulive likes to give us the funk, jazz is their priority and their growing reputation on this musical path is what has brought them this far. Scofield’s reputation in the Jazz community runs deeper and Krasno’s idolization of Scofield’s style is evident in how Krasno, himself, plays. So you can imagine how equally graceful and intense this part of the set was.
“Seeing two guitar gods trade licks was invigorating, and truly impressive at the same time, as you could see the admiration that Krasno has for Scofield as they both played their hearts out! It was ON, for sure!! “Turn It Out” brought back some great musical memories for me, as I harkened back to a January 2003 Soulive show that took place in an Italian restaurant in the tiny mountain town of Makawao, HI on the island of Maui. It reinforced the fact that we made a great decision to make the trek for our first Bowlive and it’s got me jazzed looking forward to what I’ll get to experience tonight! Thank you Eric, Alan and Neal!! You and your friends bring me musical delight!” ~ M.M.
“We love you madly,” said Scofield, “This one is a groover, called ‘Hottentot,’ so let’s keep dancing.” And dance we did. The venue never emptied out like in previous nights and this was a true testament to the musicianship on stage. Like I mentioned previously, this wasn’t your average audience of bar goers. There were super fans in the audience for each of the artists on stage and they were there in full support all night. Alan Evans was featured on a rousing drum solo during “Hottentot.” He is honestly one of the best jazz drummers around and the audience was overheard speaking on how they were looking forward to the Alan Evans Trio opening for Bowlive on night six.
Everyone was brought back on stage for the single-song encore, “Get Back.” A Beatles‘ tune, it was expertly played by the musicians on stage, having all worshiped the Beatles at some point in their musical careers. The audience was invested as well and sang along with bodies bouncing. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful collaboration of musicians.
Tonight, Jon Cleary will return with special guests jazz saxophonist Bill Evans, acclaimed Brooklyn drummer Joe Russo and southern vocalist and guitarist Susan Tedeschi.
List of Special Guests and Openers:
SATURDAY MARCH 22 – Special Guest: Bill Evans and more TBA
Opener: WOLF! Featuring Scott Metzger