A video of Jon Cleary's solo piano take on the Professor Longhair classic.

[Updated] Tonight, Jon Cleary plays his more-or-less weekly solo piano show at 8 p.m. at Chickie Wah Wah. Recently, our friends at ABIS Productions shot one of Cleary's solo sets, and today we're pleased to premiere their video of his version of "Tipitina." ABIS' Sam Radutzky writes:

One could argue that the song “Tipitina,” recorded by Professor Longhair in 1953, is the closest thing to a singular musical piece that embodies not only the essence of Fess’s music, but also the essence of the New Orleans musical heritage and the soul of New Orleans. The song fuses blues, New Orleans parade music and Cuban, Caribbean and African rhythms to create a playfully soulful and subtly funky sound.

It has been performed and interpreted by countless New Orleans musicians throughout the years, but for my money, there is no one who so gracefully and honestly captures the spirit of Fess with their performance of this song as Jon Cleary. He sings and plays this song in such a way that he pays homage to the original while simultaneously making the song his own.  Cleary’s love and respect for New Orleans and its musical heritage can be felt when listening to his music and watching him play, but there is something about his performance of this particular song that evokes the spirit of New Orleans so truly that something especially beautiful is created. No wonder he says it’s his favorite tune.

Other ABIS Productions videos

Pockit Tyme

Honey Island Swamp Band

Chris Mulé

Tommy Malone

Updated 9:09 a.m.

In the original text, I identified Josh Freund as the writer of the Cleary text. I've since been told that it was written by Sam Radutzky, and the text has been changed to reflect this.