"While the hometowns ranged widely, this lineup breathed together in a profound manner, raising memories of the legendary New York Eye and Ear Control soundtrack. From the downbeat, Symbiotique claimed the room, a whisper-going-roar. Eaton's wide, bottomy sound shouted praise and angst and with Quass's midrange longtones cutting through Davis's battery of effects pedals, the sum was faultless. Minkoff, playing a Longhorn electric bass, pizzicato and plectrum, tangled with Cheli, a champion of dynamics, shading, and subtlety."
-John Pietaro, New York Jazz Record Review, June 2022
"These are musical conversations first and foremost, and one imagines what a fascinating spectacle seeing the duo perform live would be, but in more holistic terms the swirls of sound always seem to flow from a single source, as if a mysterious pressurized gas canister has sprung a leak or someone lifted the lid of the devil’s toybox for a bit too long. The sprawling “Plastic Capitalism” is a great example of this and a clear standout on the album; the momentum of the interplay that mounts in the first half is exhilarating, and even when the pair calms things down the music quietly but stubbornly persists, seeping under the doorway with a creeping hiss."
Jack Davidson, Noise Not Music, April 8, 2021 (reviewing The Maximal Effect)
"As a whole, Symbiotique is a riotous album, traveling through a variety of captivating sonic pairings and fiery melodies. It shines strongest in its moments of calm and its inherent intricacy; Davis and Eaton move in-sync throughout, creating a cohesion that’s necessary in enjoying music based on tearing structure apart. If Symbiotique is any indication, Mother Brain Records will continue to be a free improvisation and experimental music label to watch."
-Vanessa Ague, The Road to Sound, May 13, 2020 (reviewing Symbiotique)
On Second Nature Ensemble (Kansas City):
"Second Nature Ensemble’s revelatory performance at Westport Coffee House on Sunday, June 27, provided a glimpse into a possible future of a viable form of jazz in Kansas City and acted as a reminder of the significance of a couple of long-standing components of the scene...Second Nature Ensemble is hardly the first band to fuse electronic-generated sounds with analog avant-garde improvisations, but no locally based ensemble executes the concept with more cultivated acumen. The music created by Michael Eaton (tenor saxophone), Dwight Frizzell (EWI), Seth Davis (electronics and guitar), Ben Tervort (acoustic and electric bass) and Evan Verploegh (drums) was worthy of comparison to the work of innovative stalwarts like Evan Parker."
-Plastic Sax (Bill Brownlee) concert review, July 4, 2021
"Serious play” may be a cliché by now, but it exemplifies the spirit that dances through this set."
-David Whiteis, JazzTimes
"There is more than enough promising music on Dialogical to justify Eaton's status as a force to be reckoned with in today's jazz world."
-Troy Dostert, AllAboutJazz
"Dialogical is revelatory of Eaton’s compositional capacities. It comes full of appealing ideas, including a minimalistic chamber work and mind-bending structures and variations that confer it a triumphant, fresh spirit."
-Filipe Freitas, JazzTrail
"...The “Temporalities” suite sees the basic quartet complemented by an additional piano and prepared piano, vibes, flute, trumpet and marimba. The source is evidently early minimalism à la Philip Glass and Steve Reich, with the fourth and final movement bordering on atonality. It is an engaging and rewarding piece of music requiring undivided attention. There is so much music condensed into this CD that it needs to be savored through repeated listens to appreciate its richness fully.
-Marco Cangiano, New York City Jazz Review
"The performances range from straight ahead to reaching for the outside boundaries, but this melange typically stays well within accessible melodic ranges. Captivating."
-Dave Rogers, WTJU 91.1FM, University of Virginia
"The complex interplay of wind and percussion instruments, the capricious use of chromatism within the dodecaphonic system, the inclusion of elements of ethnicity in music, especially apparent in [the] Oriental mood [of] "I and Thou" - Eaton's longest, twelve-minute composition, as well as an introduction to the sound palette of a number of exotic instruments - that's the main features of Eaton's music in this project. Each of them is not new, but together they give a completely new effect, which, in fact, Michael wanted."
-Leonard Auskern, JazzQuad.ru
"Dialogical" is one of the best releases I've reviewed this year. Incredibly gorgeous.
-Dr. Bradley Stone, SoulandJazz.com
On Cheryl Pyle's Beyond Quartet and Live at iBeam:
"Everyone on both dates is in fine form...I would say most definitely that [Cheryl Pyle and Beyond Group] is doing some of the most interesting New Jazz in and around New York these days. These two albums show us why she is a voice that must be heard. Check these out by all means!"
-Grego Applegate Edwards, gapplegate music review
"Exclusive to the New York show was an inclusion of horn section on some of the songs, and what a joyous brass quartet it was! Michael Eaton (tenor sax), Cocheme Gastelum (alto sax), Dan Brantigan (trumpet), and Nate Sutton (trombone) definitely brought the extra energy and musicianship to the stage. “November” was perhaps my favorite moment of the show; a bittersweet tribute to Doyle Bramhall’s late father, influenced by the time they spent together listening to R&B records."
-Darek Solarski, The Sound Live
"Now a veteran producer, Bramhall has reached the point where he has the skill set to do exactly what he wants in the studio...To achieve his ambitious vision, Bramhall enlists numerous musicians, including his working band (Adam Minkoff, Anthony Cole, and Ted Vecchio). There's also a long list of guests and collaborators, including Norah Jones, who adds love vocals to "New Faith," guitarists Binky Griptite and Joe Crispiano (both members of Sharon Jones & The Dap-King), James Gadson (drums), Jon Cowherd (pump organ), Tim Lefebvre (bass), Kofi Burbridge (Hammond B-3), and Michael Eaton (tenor saxophone, flute), along with a string section (violin, viola, and cello). Bramhall offers plenty of impressive blues-rock and stinging electric guitar work in this diverse 73-minute program, but it is his exploration of world music - including African, Arabic, and Indian elements - that makes this album so memorable."
- Bobby Reed, Downbeat Magazine; November 2016 Editor's Pick
"Individuation is a rather impressive debut by Michael Eaton, the start of what will surely be a very significant solo career."
- Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Great Jazz Guitarists and Jazz On Record 1917-76
"Liebman...brings out the best in Eaton, as the younger player works and succeeds at holding his own against the veteran."
"This is an auspicious debut that marks Eaton as one to watch."
- Dan Bilawsky, AllAboutJazz
"A great debut album of a saxophonist and a quartet who seem to have all it takes to get noticed in the world of contemporary jazz."
- Vittorio Lo Conte, Music Zoom
"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."
- Michael G. Nastos, Hot House Magazine, January 2015
"I'm really liking what I'm hearing. Every time a track comes up, it's an intriguing delight."
-Anthony Dean-Harris, Nextbop, 7 November 2014
"'Guru' includes some searing blowing by the leader. Impressive and clever post bop material here."
- George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly
"Tunes like the splendid opening salvo, “Interior Designs“, will be on your playlist for months (if not years) to come...If reed-led jazz is your passion, this album will be more than just satisfying – it’s truly the “cat’s meow” for those who dig down deep into their music...I give Michael & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED..."
- Doctor Jazz, Improvijazzation #153
"The rhythmic work is always very loose and playful, yet powerful and extremely complex, modern and classic...The entire work is intensely thought out and perfectly produced....Fabulous! 74:59 minutes of music that are worth every second."
- Volkmar Mantei, Ragazzi Music
"Here’s another astonishingly ambitious debut, this time by saxophonist and composer Michael Eaton. With trumpeter Jon Crowley on some tracks and mentor Dave Liebman on others, Eaton combines sophisticated modern jazz principles with minimalism and West African conventions. He even had Brad Whiteley play a prepared piano for some tracks. The results aren’t nearly as convoluted as it sounds - the performances on 'Individuation' come off like well-oiled machinery."
- S. Victor Aaron, Something Else! webzine; Individuation was included in Aaron's Top Unreviewed Albums of 2014
"After listening several times through, it is very clear that the product created by the master and his protégé is marvelously successful, the two musicians feeding inspiration off of each other."
"I salute all the musicians, each equal partners to the two saxophone players. The fact is that Michael Eaton set the bar high in this album, particularly as an ensemble leader in this debut album."
- Czékus Mihály, HiFiPiac.hu
"One of those auspicious debuts you want to get your mitts on now rather than later."
- Midwest Record
"Individuation is a very solid debut that presents to the public a mature and interesting saxophonist and composer whose name - Michael Eaton - we will clearly hear again and again."
- Leonid Auskern, JazzQuad.ru
"Michael Eaton’s musical journey will be healing for those who ache for something outside the mainstream of contemporary jazz...Individuation is saxophonist and composer Michael Eaton’s first album as a band leader and it is indeed a gem...The collaboration results in some absorbing excursions into free improvisation and experimental music that should catch the ear and mind of many progressively-minded jazz fans...The sooner you listen to it, the better you’ll feel."
- Ben Cisco, World of Music
"The sweetness of Michael’s tenor and soprano saxophone playing is a joy to the ear with a rhythmic quirkiness that brought me back to the great Canterbury progressive jazz rock groups. Featured here are nine quality original compositions including a five part suite. Brad Whiteley’s telepathic piano playing roots the music along with some agile bass playing and rolling drums and his solo on ‘Guru’ is one of the best. And Michael has also played on Minkoff’s new interpretation of Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’!!"
- Phil Jackson, Acid Dragon Magazine
"Eaton displays headily progressive chops...Mike learned a lot from Dave, as he can stand very strong with the guy...Eaton displays both the lyricality and outside edginess Liebman has always been prized for and this sets up the anticipation for Liebman's arrival."
"The interplay bewtween Eaton and trumpeter Crowley, who gets only three cuts in but is dynamite every time he pops up, [maintains] a strikingly dynamic melodic tension/harmony with the sax - "Me, But Not Myself" [being] a killer example...Then, when Liebman slides in, in Alter Ego, everything lights up. And you can tell he's still giving Eaton lessons in playing from the bottom of one's soul...Dave's in extremely fine fettle, every micron as good as his decades earlier ECM work."
Hard to believe this is Eaton's debut as a leader, but it is, and I'd place it in with my favorite prog/fusion sides: Embryo, Il Volo, The Long Hello, Elton Dean, etc."
- Mark S. Tucker (ed. David N. Pyles), Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
On "Michael Eaton and Adam Minkoff Present John Coltrane's Ascension":
“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.
- Nate Chinen, NY Times
"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."
- Jim Macnie, Village Voice, June 8, 2015
As a guest saxophonist with David Kulma/Dorian Wallace's video opera, "Stories from the Microchasm"
"[Kulma's] monologue is at once rambling and riveting, his words backed by music that blurs distinctions between jazz and contemporary classical styles."
-Anthony Tommasini, NY Times, May 8, 2016
On Loren's Chuno's Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC:
"The unmistakable Afrobeat presence of 'Mr. Sabi,' features superb tenor sax work by Michael Eaton, bringing an air of authenticity to the palpitating rhythm."
- James Nadal, AllAboutJazz
Interviews and articles:
Rick Keene Music Scene, Sax Player Michael Eaton Displays Creativity on Latest Disc, May 15, 2019
I speak with guitarist Rick Keene about the music of Dialogical, the saxophone, using space in improvisation, and more.
Doing Jazz, Episode 17, July 1, 2016
I join vocalist/pianist/composer and math professor Lorens Chuno for his podcast, "Doing Jazz" (formerly "Doing Art"). We discuss my career, audience reception of jazz, Kansas City, and more.
Jazz Town, Kansas City Star, December 13, 2015
Klopus cites the final show at recordBar for Jeff Harshbarger Presents an Alternative Jazz series. Bassist Harshbarger assembled vibraphonist Peter Schlamb and drummer John Kizilarmut to perform a concert of my original music.
Jazz Town, Kansas City Star, February 15, 2015
Kansas City Star jazz columnist Joe Klopus mentions the Michael Eaton Quartet on tour, performing in Kansas City at Westport Coffee House.
The Jazz Hole, BreakThru Radio, November 16, 2014
Saxophonist and clarinetist Linus Wyrsch interviews me about Individuation on his radio show. We discuss the making of the album, what it was like working with Dave Liebman, my association with Destiny Records, the meaning of the Jungian conception of individuation, and more.
Living out a Dream
Alma mater newsletter feature on my music, as well as early influences through mentors and the LPS band program.
Critic Michael G. Nastos picked Individuation as one of the top 25 releases of 2014. He discusses me and the recording on WDEE-TV (around the 15:30 mark) and plays a bit of "Prickly"; watch here.