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July/August 2004

Jon Cleary
Pin Your Spin
Basin Street Records

New Orleans-based pianist and vocalist Jon Cleary and his band show us the different colors funk comes in on Pin Your Spin. While there's plenty of funky stuff on the disc-as on the title track, where a deep growling bass pattern prowls beneath the melody; "Funky Munky Biznis" is an infectious jam; and "Got to Be More Careful" recalls classic '70s hard R&B-this album covers a lot more stylistic ground.

"Oh No No No" features Latin-flavored piano, while the sly "Agent 00 Funk" conjures up a kind of secret agent movie theme vibe. On "Ain't Nuttin Nice," driving drums dance along with the funky bass until Cleary's fleet-fingered gospel piano comes in and takes the tune over. Things turn bluesy on "Is It Any Wonder," and there are no instruments at all on the shining "Best Ain't Good Enuff," an a capella doo-wop tune accompanied only by finger snaps and handclaps. Cleary wraps up the album on a charming, sprightly note with the Latin-piano-meets-tribal-percussion closer "Zulu Strut."

Originally published in July/August 2004
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