“If I write just one tune that makes me feel like ‘Dreaming’ I will rest content. Thank you for that beguiling tune.” Eska Mtungwazi
Stephen McCleery has been able to play music by ear for as long as he can remember, working out how to play ʻSilent Nightʼ when he was barely able to reach the keys on his dadʼs piano. Growing up in the 80ʼs there were lots of synth tracks to emulate but it was soul music by the likes of Otis Redding, Bill Withers and Smokey Robinson that caught his attention and it wasnʼt long before he was coaxing his little brother, Jono into singing along.
Some progressive lessons with the inspirational Nigel Crouch (who also taught LTJ Bukem) gave him the tools to develop his playing and he soon began sitting in on gigs around London and playing with various bands. He is currently a busy member of the Part Time Heroes, last seen at the Jazz Café for the launch of their second album Lightfalls. With them he has played the main stage at the Big Chill festival and recorded a live session at the BBC Maida Vale Studios for Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Radio 1 show.
He still plays with his brother Jono McCleery (now signed to Ninja Tune) whenever he can, plus heʼs also worked with Eddie Pillar, Bridgette Amofah, Gilles Peterson, Laura Vane, Liane Carroll, Mark Rae, Matthew Halsall, Monday Michiru, N’dambi, Richard Spaven, Sarah Scott & Stac in genres spanning from Latin & Jazz to Hip Hop & Drum & Bass.