Individuation at Rockwood, The Ship in Kansas Cty

I recorded on two more videos with NYC-based Afro-Colombian Grupo Rebolu on Sunday, May 22 for Congahead.com.  The band's previous videos are available on Congahead, or they can be accessed by visiting my YouTube channel.  Rebolu is an exciting blend of traditional Colombian folkloric music as well as new directions in that tradition.  Visit the band's website here.  

I also played in a trio version of Cheryl Pyle's Beyond Group that evening for the C.O.M.A series at ABC No Rio.  The building, standing since the 19th century, is being bulldozed and renovated, and the series is looking to reform elsewhere.  The theme for the concert was a tribute to Gaetano Daga, a composer who lived in the building during the 1800s.  Daga composed a march called "Union Blues Quick Step" that was musicologically interesting in that it predated Sousa and owed as much to Schubert or perhaps Brahms as it did the march tradition, although it followed the basic march format and still modulated a fourth at the trio section.  The evening also marked the occasion of Sun Ra's 102nd birthday.  The Beyond Trio accordingly played a mix of free improvisations, abstractions on the Daga piece, a short theme by Sun Ra, and a semi-pointillistic piece by Cheryl, adding some variation in repertoire with the three instrument, all woodwind format.

The Individuation Quartet returns to Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 1 at midnight on Sunday, June 26 (into Monday morning).  We'll perform music old and new from Individuation and the upcoming Dialogical on Destiny Records.

In August, I will be back in Kansas City, MO and will perform at a KC venue new to me, The Ship, on August 4 with heavies Peter Schlamb (vibraphone), Jeff Harshbarger (bass), and John Kizilarmut (drums).  Most likely the repertoire will include tunes by Thelonious Monk and Woody Shaw.  More Midwestern gigs in August are in the works.

I'm excited to record with the brilliant trumpeter, composer, and conceptualist, Kyle Quass from August 12-13 in Bloomington, IN.  Kyle convened a sextet in March with saxophonist extraordinaire Mark Tuttle, me, Adam Davis on guitar, Jeremy Allen on bass, and Ben Lumsdaine on drums.  The repertoire will probably be a mix of material from Quass plus myself.  
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The Beyond Trio at ABC No Rio; May 22, 2016. Gene Coleman, Cheryl Pyle, Michael Eaton.

Beyond Group: Live at Spectrum concert recording

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Cheryl Pyle, leader and organizer of the Beyond Group, has released a live recording of our complete concert at Spectrum on April 29.  

The band was augmented to octet size with Cheryl Pyle and Gene Coleman on C flute and alto flute; Michael Eaton on soprano sax; David Tamura on tenor sax; Bern Nix on guitar; Francois Grillot on electric bass; William Ruiz on percussion; and Roberta Piket on piano.  Carman Moore conducted the ensemble.

With the expanded instrumentation resembling a full rhythm section, the music takes on newer and richer harmonic dimensions.  Piket's playing was especially inspiring, with a very broad and chromatic palette of voicings and intervallic ideas.

An MP3 of the concert is available at Cheryl's website here, or you can write to her directly.  The complete video is also below.

New York Times review for David Kulma/Dorian Wallace "The Rest is Sh*t: Stories from the Microchasm" video opera

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On Friday, May 6, the first episode of David Kulma and Dorian Wallace's new video opera, "The Rest is Sh*t"" premiered at Anthology Film Archives.  With video concept and realization by John Sanborn, the work extends the narrative stream of consciousness/spoken word style present in Robert Ashley's performance art opera "Perfect Lives" (for which Kulma's voice is perfectly suited), as performed the past two years by Kulma and Wallace (and originally filmed in the 1980s by Sanborn).  I performed on "Perfect Lives" the past two years and was subsequently invited to take part in the music for the new video opera, which was structured improvisation, particularly effective over some haunting footage of NYC protests over the killing of Eric Garner and others.

The Times' Anthony Tommasini writes, "[Kulma's] monologue is at once rambling and riveting, his words backed by music that blurs distinctions between jazz and contemporary classical styles." 

Notes on recording Dialogical, next session: May 27

April 27 and 28 were spent tracking new music at The Bunker in Brooklyn for my next album on Destiny Records, Dialogical.  The Individuation Quartet was joined  by Brittany Anjou (vibraphone, gyil), as well as Cheryl Pyle on flutes, Jon Crowley on trumpet (fellow Destiny Records artist), Sarah Mullins (Gamalan Dharma Swara) on marimba and triangles, Sean Sonderegger (Skirl Records) on tenor saxophone, and James Brandon Lewis (Sony/O'Keh Records) on tenor saxophone.  The music was a mix of structured compositions, a new minimalist chamber work, and free improvisation.

Our final session for Dialogical takes place on May 27 at Sear Sound with all new tunes featuring the great Lionel Loueke (Blue Note Records) on guitar!
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Used with Creative Commons license.

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Making notes in the studio, with Brittany Anjou.

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The Individuation Quintet with Brad Whiteley, Shareef Taher, Michael Eaton, Daniel Ori, and Brittany Anjou at The Bunker in Williamsburg. Day 1 of 3 recording for Dialogical.

2016 MIDWESTERN TOUR/DIALOGICAL ALBUM PREVIEW TOUR: March 18-24

The 2016 Dialogical Album Preview Tour was a big success!  Artistically and personally, the Individuation Quartet reached new levels of depth and development in our music, performing music both from Individuation but also some select standards and new music to be recorded on our next album, Dialogical.  We performed at some great Midwestern venues: Blujazz (Akron, OH), The Jazz Kitchen (Indianapolis, IN), BB's Jazz and Blues (St. Louis, MO), Elastic Arts (Chicago, IL), Westport Coffee House (Kansas City, MO), and Bear's Place (Bloomington, IN).

A huge thanks to everyone who came out to support us and to all the fans, venues, and supporters who made this possible - it makes a difference!
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Weekend in Indiana: Reflections on Barry Ashton Jazz Festival 2016 and Kyle Quass' Special Guests

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Kyle Quass' Special Guests at The Chatterbox in Indianapolis. Photo by David Andrichik.

I flew back to NYC after a memorable weekend of music of Indiana.

First was the Barry Ashton Jazz Festival in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  I had the chance to work with the students of Northrop High School under the direction of John VanPatten. Mr. VanPatten was a very gracious host who has an excellent music program happening at Northrup.  The students all played very well, and they were a pleasure to work with.  In total, 17 schools attended the festival on Saturday.  Brad Whiteley, Daniel Ori, and Shareef Taher flew into Indiana during the afternoon, and we presented a masterclass to students, discussing rhythm section communication within the context of my music ("Lifecycle"), arranging lead sheets into basic arrangements, working with odd meters, and more.  At 6:30, I was the guest with Northrop Jazz I, and at 7:30, the Individuation Quartet performed a focused set of originals (Alter Ego, Guru, Prickly, Juno).  Thank you to all the students, faculty, and parents who made the event possible!

Heading back to Indianapolis, we drove to The Chatterbox, one of the longest running jazz venues in the city.  I caught up with trumpeter Kyle Quass, who brought a killing quintet with Mark Tuttle (a tenor powerhouse and individualist), Adam Davis on guitar, Jesse Whitman on bass, and Ben Lumsdaine on drums.  We played a mix of Kyle's original compositions as well as tunes by Wayne Shorter and Horace Silver.  It was a great example of improvisers sharing a language that had certain similarities and commonalities, but also enough differences to create compelling variety and excitement.  I felt it exemplified some of the best qualities that the music we call "jazz" embodies, which is to say the celebration of individuality and diversity and real time dialogue.  We are reconvening to record the ensemble in mid August 2016.

Alex MacKinnon & The Whistleblowers, New EP: Imaginary Lines! Out now!

I'm proud to contribute saxophone on drummer Alex MacKinnon's brand new EP, Imaginary Lines, from his band The Whistleblowers.  Alex writes left, socially conscious protest music that spans a variety of idioms - blues, rock, funk, folk & roots music, and hip hop.  At 4 tracks for $5 dollars, Imaginary Lines is a short but potent listen.  Alex is a great musician and composer deserving of a wider listening audience.  

Beyond Group at ABC Norio, January 31

I played with my friend Cheryl Pyle's Beyond Group, this time in septet format, at the C.O. M.A. series at ABC Norio, one of NYC's longest running spaces for free improvised music, on January 31.  With the remarkable Carman Moore conducting; the band consisted of Cheryl Pyle and Gene Coleman on flutes; yours truly on soprano saxophone and David Tamura on tenor sax; Bern Nix on guitar; and William Ruiz on percussion.  We will return in late April for a performance at Spectrum NYC as an octet, with Robert Piket on piano.
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Beyond Group (septet) at ABC Norio, January 31, 2016. Photo by Barbara Siwula.

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Notes from Kansas City (December 2015): The Michael Eaton Group played the final show for Jeff Harshbarger Presents an Alternative Jazz Series at recordBar in Kansas City, MO on December 20. I was joined by Peter Schlamb (vibes), Jeff Harshbarger (bass), and John Kizilarmut (drums), plus on the second set a special guest, Travis Reuter (guitar).

The show focused on all original music from me, plus a cover of Joe Henderson's classic "Inner Urge" at the close of the evening. I want to sincerely thank everyone, especially my dear friends and teachers from my years as a high school student in Kansas City, who came out to support the performance and finish out Record Bar in fitting form.

As an historical aside, I grew up during what I call the neoclassical era, commonly referred to as the "Young Lions" period of jazz, during the 1980s and 90s. This period saw a renewed interest and renaissance in Kansas City jazz and its heritage, especially thanks to then-mayor and later United States Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, who spearheaded an initiative to restore Kansas City's historic 18th & Vine district. 18th & Vine was the epicenter of jazz in Kansas City during the 1930s, much like Indiana Avenue was for Indianapolis in the 1940s and 50s. With a wealth of local clubs and venues supporting jazz during the 90s, as well as the presence of national and international jazz artists playing the Folly Theater (I saw the Vanguard Orchestra, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker), the Blue Room, the Gem Theater, and the now defunct Kansas City International Jazz Festival (I saw Herbie and Wayne play duo in 1998 at Starlight Theater), it was a kind of golden era for the music. (I had a similar experience on the Bloomington, Indiana scene ca. 1999-2007.)

Witnessing the cultural and material changes Kansas City has undergone over time and from a distance, I now see more and more young and progressive players taking an interest in the music and having a presence on the scene, and consequently I perceive a new orientation and healthy balance between the roots and history of Kansas City jazz in classic blues, swing, and bebop in relation to contemporary languages from the 1960s to today.

A big thank you to Jeff Harshbarger for inviting me to participate in the series and to recordBar for making a home for modern jazz and a variety of creative music in Kansas City. The music requires venues like that! Photo courtesy of Kristina Ning.

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Scott Sharrard's Brickyard Band played at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2, on December 15, 2015. The band was Scott Sharrard (guitar), Eric Finland (organ), Jeff Hanley (bass), Diego Voglino (drums), Moses Patrou (drums and vocals), Michael Eaton (tenor sax), and Dan Brantigan (trumpet). Photo courtesy of Diane Smith.

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Me and Dan Brantigan (from Adam Minkoff's Vaalbara, the Rite of Spring Octet, The Priggs) playing horn arrangements, while Moses Patrou drums and sings. Photo by Vernon Webb.

Destiny Records showcase at Cornelia Street Cafe

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The Michael Eaton Quartet performed at Destiny Records' artist showcase on October 27, at Cornelia Street Cafe.  The first set at 8:30pm featured the music of Cameron Mizell (guitar), Brad Whiteley (piano), and Kenneth Salters (drums), with guests Michael Eaton (saxophone), Jon Crowley (trumpet), and George Shalda (trumpet).  The second set was the Michael Eaton Quartet (Brad Whiteley, Daniel Ori, Shareef Taher) performing "Alter Ego" and "Me, But Not Myself" as well as Laura Otero's "From Noche to Night" and "A Paso Lento", as well as Crowley's tune "Still Here". Special thanks goes to Mike Shields, Cameron Mizell, and George Shalda of Destiny Records for their attendance and support.

Beyond Sextet with Carman Moore at Downtown Music Gallery

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Cheryl Pyle's Beyond Sextet played a second concert with Carman Moore conducting on Sunday, October 18 at New York's Downtown Music Gallery.  This was my first occasion to perform at DMG.  The absence of piano, bass, and drum set lends the group a lighter profile and more chamber group-like orchestration than many freely improvised groups.  Video from the entire concert is above, and the audio is available (with beautiful digital art by Pien van der Beek) for purchase from 11th Street Music by visiting Cheryl Pyle's home page.   Cover art from the Beyond Group releases I play on are shown below.

PBS Special: School Sleuth - AIRING NOW

I had a blast back in February recording some saxophone tracks at Bass Hit Studios with Kelsey Jillette (voice), Brad Whiteley (piano), Scott Colberg (bass), and Jay Sawyer (drums).  The music, composed for the PBS documentary/detective show School Sleuth, included an original standard type of tune by Kelsey and Brad, "I've Been Searching", as well as incidental music in a quasi film noir vein for cuts and montages.  The show examines the effects of technology in classroom on children and educators, as well as associated social and philosophical issues with how it is implemented.  The episode is airing now on PBS stations across the United States.  It can also be streamed below.  
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Michael Eaton and Adam Minkoff Present John Coltrane's Ascension

I'm pleased to present the June 8, 2015 performance of John Coltrane's Ascension at ShapeShifter Lab, in honor of the 50th anniversary of its recording.  Many thanks to Michaël Attias, Daniel Carter, Sean Sonderegger, James Brandon Lewis, Briggan Krauss, Dan Brantigan, Jonathan Finlayson, Graham Haynes, Anthony Coleman, Ava Mendoza, Calvin Weston, and Nick Anderson.  A special thank you to Adam Minkoff for all his help, advice, suggestions, and direction.  A big thanks to Dani Gros for realizing our Four for Trane homage photo and poster design - and for encouraging us to find a facsimile of Archie's pipe at the last minute.  Another big thanks to Norihiro Kikuta for editing the video.  If you're a fan of the music, the musicians, or of John Coltrane, feel free to share.

The evening received coverage in the NY Times and the Village Voice.

Nate Chinen wrote in the NY Times:

 "'Ascension,' John Coltrane’s mid-1960s supernova, was a work of density and extremity, impossible to replicate under any conditions. But evocation is another story, and this tribute has enough heavy improvisers — like the trumpeters Graham Haynes and Jonathan Finlayson, the saxophonists James Brandon Lewis and Briggan Krauss, and the drummer G. Calvin Weston — to generate intrigue. Setting things in motion are Mr. Eaton, who will play tenor saxophone, and Mr. Minkoff, on electric bass."

The Village Voice's Jim Macnie highlighted the show as one of the top nine performances in New York City this past week:

"Coltrane's rip-snort, wham-bam, OMG opus was recorded fifty years ago this month, and it still packs the shit-just-got-real punch that it did back in the day. A collective roar from a feisty large ensemble, it embraced both political and spiritual overtones when it shook the world in the mid-Sixties. Saxophonist Michael Eaton and bassist Adam Minkoff have gathered their own mega-squad of improvisers adept at outcat exclamation, and from Michael Attias' alto to Briggan Krauss' bari, it should be intriguing to see where their pointed polyphony leads them. One thing's certain: the physical punch of the 14-member outfit will be its own reward. This is body music and head music. Fans of superb pianist Anthony Coleman might want to circle the date. He doesn't get his McCoy on very often."

August 2015, Bloomington, IN: The Music of Joe Henderson

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I joined the Jazz Fables concert series at Bear's Place in Bloomington, Indiana on August 27 for a hard swinging and soulful tribute to Joe Henderson. The songbook spanned an overview of Joe's writing from his Blue Note and Milestone eras, with an emphasis on his more groove-oriented and intricately arranged tunes, including: No Me Esqueca, Jinrikisha, Mamacita, Inner Urge, The Kicker, Mo' Joe, A Shade of Joe, Mode for Joe, Caribbean Fire Dance, Black Narcissus, and Afro-Centric. We played arrangements transcribed off the original recordings as well as one of Jim Snidero's elegant sextet arrangements from his tribute to Joe on Double Time Records. Joe is one of my great heroes and strongest influences as an improviser. I remember in the late 90s first hearing "Mode for Joe" (and all of Joe's classic Blue Note albums), and I loved both the playing and tunes, so it was especially rewarding to have a chance finally to explore some of that music.



After the gig we had a mini IU Jazz Studies reunion in the back room of Bear's. From L to R: Cam Collins, Tom Walsh (Professor of Saxophone, Chair of Jazz Studies), Luke Gillespie (Professor of Jazz Piano), Joel Kelsey, BJ Cord, and Michael Eaton.

Grupo Rebolú on congahead.com

I had the pleasure of recording these songs with NYC based Afro-Colombian band, Grupo Rebolú, for the website www.congahead.com in May.  A big thank you to Rebolú for having me and to Martin Cohen and his team for the photographs and video.

March 2015: AllAboutJazz's Dan Bilawsky and Benjamin Scholz review Individuation

Individuation received two reviews in AllAboutJazz recently.  Writer Dan Bilawsky delivers an insightful review:.  

Describing the music as "a program of distinctive originals," he praises the contributions of each band member, singling out Brad Whiteley's role in the musical architecture.  Special guest David Liebman "brings a characteristic sense of urgency to the music", but Liebman also "brings out the best in Eaton, as the younger player works and succeeds at holding his own against the veteran."  Bilawsky concludes that Individuation is "an auspicious debut that marks Eaton as one to watch".

Drummer/percussionist Benjamin Scholz also weighed in on the album:

"Even though the music on this album took months to complete, the material pops in a fresh and lively way without sounding over-rehearsed."

Individuation: The Video

Michael Eaton on Destiny Records

My debut recording as a leader, Individuation, is now out on Destiny Records!  The album is available in digital and CD format (in a beautiful 6-panel digipack design), and it can be ordered and streamed in its entirety at the Destiny Records website. You can also purchase and listen through digital retailers like iTunes and Amazon.

The album features all my original compositions, with my working band: Brad Whiteley (piano), Daniel Ori (bass), and Shareef Taher (drums), plus friends Jon Crowley (trumpet) and Scott Colberg (bass), and a very special guest, master musician David Liebman (soprano and tenor saxophones).

For more information about my previous recording projects as a co-leader or sideman, visit my Music page.
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Photo by Luis Ruiz, Larufoto.

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Photo by Luiz Ruiz, Larufoto.

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Preparing the piano for the title track, "Individuation". Photo by Luis Ruiz, Larufoto.

In September, Adam Minkoff and I co-wrote and recorded a track for East London Radio's funky new theme song (click on player above).  Lots of fun!

Upcoming performances:

May27

recording album

Sear Sound

Final recording date for "Dialogical", my next album on Destiny Records!

Jun13

recording album

Avatar Studio, New York, New York, US

Recording saxophone with Brad Whiteley for his next album on Destiny Records with Tom Guarna, Matt Pavolka, and Kenneth Salters.