March 2: Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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The Michael Eaton Quartet plus vocalist Akie Bermiss will premiere new music plus collaborate on classic standards on March 2, 11pm, at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2.   Their repertoire includes poignant and soulful standards from John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, the Tony Bennett/Bill Evans album, Hoagy Carmichael, George Gershwin, Billy Strayhorn, Burt Bacharach (arr. Mulgrew Miller, and more.

Perfect Lives with Tenth Intervention, new opera by Kulma/Wallace: February 27 and 28

I will reprise my role as tenor saxophonist in Tenth Intervention's performance of Robert Ashley's opera/performance art piece "Perfect Lives".  We will perform an abbreviated version of the opera on February 27 at Spectrum NYC (121 Ludlow Street, #2), and the following day we enter the studio to record the pilot episode for a new opera by David Kulma and Dorian Wallace, which will be documented by John Sanborn, the original filmmaker of Ashley's "Perfect Lives".  This will be the last performance of Perfect Lives by Tenth Intervention for the foreseeable future, so I encourage all interested parties to attend the performance at Spectrum, which will be 3 1/2 hours and encompass all seven movements, instead the 7 hour length from last year.  This is a rare and formidable piece of performance art, I think following the Cageian tradition of redefining what constitutes "music",  from a true American original.  Worth experiencing live and in person!!

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, it's a short but potent listen.  Alex is a great musician deserving of a wider listening audience.  Check it out!

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.

March 2016 and beyond: Northrup Jazz Festival, Spring Tour, next album on Destiny Records!

The Michael Eaton Individuation Quartet will travel to the Midwest twice in March 2016.  First, I will be featured guest artist at the Northrup Jazz Festival for in Fort Wayne, Indiana on March 12, 2016.  I will perform a set with the Northrup Big Band and then one set with the Individuation Quartet.  

Second, the Individuation Quartet will return to the Midwest for our 2016 Midwestern Tour and perform at the following venues:

March 18, Blujazz (Akron, OH)
March 19, The Jazz Kitchen (Indianapolis, IN)
March 20, BB's Jazz & Blues (St. Louis, MO) - special organ trio edition with Michael Eaton, Brad Whiteley, Shareef Taher
March 21, Elastic Arts (Chicago, IL)
March 22, TBA
March 23, Westport Coffee House (Kansas City, MO)
March 24, Bear's Place (Bloomington, IN) 

Finally, the second album for the Michael Eaton Individuation Quartet/Quintet is in the works and scheduled to be recorded at The Bunker in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in late April 2016.  I am exceedingly grateful and excited to be collaborating with some very special guest artists, who I will announce in more detail in the near future.  My intention for the second album is to explore themes begun in Individuation and to reach further artistically as the group's most fully realized project to date.  We will explore some of the compositions to be included on the second album while on our upcoming Midwestern March 2016 tour.

There are more developments as well, including a contemporary soul jazz collaboration with Adam Minkoff to be recorded in 2016, the release of Minkoff's Rite of Spring Octet album, a new Eaton/Anderson/Minkoff trio album, and more.  Watch this space for announcements!
Kristina-ning

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.

October 8: The Jazz Hole on BreakThru Radio

Whether you live outside or within the NYC area, you can take listen to some of my band's latest live performances, right off the soundboard from Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 1!   Recordings from May 27 and July 12, 2015 are featured this week on Linus Wyrch's show, The Jazz Hole, on BreakThru Radio.  The show does a great service to the jazz community by broadcasting work from a spectrum of artists in improvised music, both well and lesser known.  A big thank you to Linus for getting the music out there!  To hear the set, go here.

Set order (all compositions by Eaton):
Alter Ego
Guru
A New Place
Lifecycle
Individuation Part IV

Michael Eaton - tenor and soprano saxophones
Brad Whiteley - piano
Brittany Anjou - vibraphone
Daniel Ori - bass
Shareef Taher - drums

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.  
School-sleuth

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.

Gig audio! Free improv from Rockwood Music Hall, July 5, 2015

These improvisations come from a completely free improvised set on Sunday, July 5 at Rockwood, Stage 1.  Adam Minkoff (acoustic bass) convened a quartet with me (tenor saxophone), Akie Bermiss (piano), and Bob Stander (drums).  There was no discussion or preparation, although to my ears the music sounds a little like late Coltrane meets late 60s Andrew Hill.  Audio mastered by Bob Stander.

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."

FEBRUARY 2015 MIDWESTERN TOUR POSTSCRIPT

A HUGE THANKS to everyone who came out to see our performances this past week!  Having your support and energy was crucial for our success.  We saw friends, family, mentors, and jazz fans at the Bop Stop, Jerry's, Westport Coffee House, Bear's Place, and the High Hat Club.  It was a special treat to perform the music of Individuation five days in a row.  Every new set was a chance for adventure and discovery.   Thanks to Gabe Pollack at the Bop Stop, Benjamin Scholz and his Elec Tet, Cindy Svehla, Tom Ptacek at Westport Coffee House, David Miller at Bear's Place, Rob Ambrose, Joel and Alice Kelsey, Pete Wiegand, and to all our friends and IU alumni who gave us their time and attention.

Some photos of our sets are posted below.  

January 20 NYC Shrine Performance featured in Hot House Magazine, Nastos votes for Individuation in NPR 2014 Critics Poll

My quartet returns with our first gig of 2015!  Our January 20 show at The Shrine is profiled in the January edition of Hot House Magazine, available at news stands in New York City as well as area jazz venues.  Michael G. Nastos (All Music Guide, DownBeat, Cadence, Swing Journal) included Individuation in his top 25 albums of 2014 and also voted the album as his choice for "Best Debut" in the 2014 NPR Critics Poll for jazz. 

He writes in Hot House:

"Since collaborating with mentor David Liebman, Eaton is now doing his own original compositions and sounds like a darker, ebony-toned version of Liebman. Based on the release of his debut recording for the Destiny label, Individuation, Eaton's music has taken off."

Joining my quartet will be Jon Crowley (trumpet) and Dorian Wallace (piano).  The Michael Eaton Quartet performs two sets from 6-8pm, and l will join Dorian Wallace and the Free Sound Ahn-Somble directly after, performing from 8-10pm.

 

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:

Feb27

Robert Ashley's Perfect Lives

Spectrum NYC, 121 Ludlow St #2, New York, NY 10002

I'm thrilled and honored to once again play a role in presenting the legendary composer Robert Ashley's opera, Perfect Lives, under the aegis of Dorian Wallace and Hajnal Pivnick's Tenth Intervention. Ashley (1930-2014) was a significant voice of the American avant garde, and John Cage said about Perfect Lives: "What about the Bible? And the Koran? It doesn't matter: we have Perfect Lives."

This concert will be presented at Spectrum NYC's Leap Year Weekend, but the performance will be abbreviated to 3.5 hours instead of the 7 hour full performance this past year at Firehouse Space in Brooklyn.

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Mar2

Michael Eaton Quartet + Akie Bermiss

Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 1, 196 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

A pretour show with the Michael Eaton Quartet, then we bring up our special guest Akie Bermiss to sing with the band.

Michael Eaton - tenor and soprano saxes Brad Whiteley - piano Daniel Ori - bass Shareef Taher - drums Akie Bermiss - vocals

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Mar4

Beyond Group

Spectrum NYC, 121 Ludlow St #2, New York, NY 10002

Performing a set of improvisations in various configurations at Spectrum NYC.

Cheryl Pyle-flute, alto flute Gene Coleman-flute Michael Eaton-soprano sax David Tamura-tenor sax Bern Niz-guitar Francois Grillot-bass William Ruiz-percussion

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Mar12

Northrup Jazz Festival

Northrup High School, 1200 S Clinton St, Fort Wayne, IN 46802

Michael Eaton is guest artist with the Northrup High School Jazz 1 Ensemble, followed by the Michael Eaton Individuation Quartet.

Northrup Jazz 1 plays from approx. 6:30-7:30pm, and the Individuation Quartet plays from approx. 7:30-8:30pm.

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Mar18

Michael Eaton Quartet

Blujazz, 47 E Market St, Akron, OH 44308

Debut performance of the Michael Eaton Quartet at Blujazz, on tour in anticipation of recording our next album for Destiny Records.

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Mar19

Michael Eaton Quartet

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The Jazz Kitchen, 5377 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46220

Delighted to be performing at one of the best jazz clubs in the Midwest, The Jazz Kitchen. We'll be on tour in anticipation of recording our next album for Destiny Records. Performing compositions from Individuation and new material to be recorded.

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Mar20

Michael Eaton Quartet

BB's, 700 S Broadway, St. Louis, MO 63102

Debut performance at BB's in St. Louis, on tour in anticipation of recording our next album for Destiny Records. Performing compositions from Individuation and new material to be recorded.

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Mar23

Michael Eaton Quartet

Westport Coffee House, 4010 Pennsylvania Ave, Kansas City, MO 64111

Debuting new compositions in preparation for our next recording. This show will feature the great vibist, Peter Schlamb, with the quartet.

Michael Eaton - tenor and soprano saxophones Brad Whiteley - piano Daniel Ori - bass Shareef Taher - drums + Peter Schlamb - vibes

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