John Scofield's new collection of gospel tunes, Piety Street, teams him with two New Orleans musicians, pianist Jon Cleary and bassist George Porter Jnr. Cleary is an adopted son of the Crescent City, born in Britain and educated at Cranbrook School in Kent. In the late 1990s, he had a residency at the Jazz Club, returning later to the same venue as Maria Muldaur's accompanist. After that, as well as putting out albums of his own, Cleary started turning up as a musician and songwriter on CDs by bluesy performers such as Taj Mahal and Bonnie Raitt. He joined Raitt's band for a while, and will be featured as a special guest on selected dates for this summer's BonTaj Roulet tour. Cleary's first solo recording, Alligator Lips and Dirty Rice, was released in 1994, and Porter Jnr also played bass and sang backing vocals. Porter was the bassist with one of the most influential New Orleans ensembles of them all, the Meters, and plays to this day with the Funky Meters, which also include co-founder Art Neville. Cleary and Porter have almost certainly played together a number of times in the intervening years, but Piety Street is the first album they have collaborated on since Alligator Lips. Although Piety Street has been released as a Scofield project it is very much a band effort, and Cleary takes most of the lead vocals. Also featured are drummers Ricky Fataar (from Raitt's band), Shannon Powell and vocalist John Boutte. According to Scofield the original idea was to record a blues album in New Orleans, and there are vestiges of that in some of the guitar solos, but somewhere along the way the focus shifted to gospel tunes. Scofield's playing on this CD is not particularly revelatory. His connection to the blues is always audible in his work, and although he solos with conviction, he is much less prominent here than he was on, for example, his Ray Charles tribute album, made in 2005, That's What I Say. In many ways the dominant force on the album is Cleary, who sings and plays James Booker-inspired organ and his signature rocking New Orleans piano. Instrumentally, Cleary was hot stuff from an early age; he was never a bad singer and has matured considerably in that capacity. Scofield is touring the album with a shifting lineup of musicians - subject to availability - but Cleary is a constant factor throughout. He and the Piety Street Band are playing the Tokyo Jazz Festival in September, for which Scofield will also guest with McCoy Tyner, and one night at a yet to be listed venue in Taipei on September 8. Their next US date is not until September 12 - it would be good to hear them in Hong Kong during that gap, if some enterprising promoter is willing to take a punt. Scofield has played here a number of times before and is generally a reliable draw. In addition to his Piety Street performances, Cleary has a live album out: Mo Hippa, recorded last year at The Vanguard in Sydney, featuring his regular band, the Absolute Monster Gentlemen.