Dialogical recording session notes


Used with Creative Commons license.

The Individuation Quartet/Quintet + guests spent April 27 and 28 plus May 27 tracking new music at The Bunker and Sear Sound 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),Sean Sonderegger (Skirl Records) on tenor saxophone, James Brandon Lewis (Sony/O'Keh Records) on tenor saxophone, Sarah Mullins (Gamalan Dharma Swara) on marimba and triangles.  The Sear Sound session featured a very special guest, the great Lionel Loueke (Blue Note Records) on guitar and vocals.  Unified by the concept of dialogism as a plurality of selves and worlds, the music is a mix of modern odd meter and mixed meter jazz compositions, a totally notated new minimalist chamber work, free improvisations, and encounters with personalities in the improvised music spectrum.  Dialogical will be released by Destiny Records in early 2017.  

My ensemble went above and beyond in the preparation and execution of some difficult music.  I am very grateful to all of them for their sustained interest and immersion in my musical world.  I am also grateful to have a label that has given me the chance to combine many facets of my artistic personality in one recording.  There were some very special moments - recording the three tenors with James and Sean; documenting the free improvised chemistry between Cheryl Pyle and myself; realizing a 20 minute Reich-inspired piece; and recording with one of my favorite voices in modern jazz, Lionel.  Hearing Lionel sing my melodies was a magical experience.  Several pieces were written with his voice, both on guitar and as a vocalist, in mind.  Everyone involved was riveted by his artistry, and hearing the melodies come out even beyond what I had imagined was a wonderful artistic experience.


The Individuation Quintet + special guest Lionel Loueke. From L to R: Lionel Loueke, Brittany Anjou, Michael Eaton, Shareef Taher, Daniel Ori, Brad Whiteley. Photo by Dani Gros.


Making notes in the studio, with Brittany Anjou.


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.

Lorens Chuno AAJ review for Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC

Lorens Chuno's latest album featuring yours truly on saxophone was reviewed by AllAboutJazz's James Nadal.   In a 4-star review, Nadal says "Lorens Chuno represents the new generation of Africans who adopted their culture into the American musical mainstream, and vice versa, contributing to the overall observance of jazz as a thriving art form" - a stylistic fusion I hope to achieve on my upcoming album, Dialogical.

Nadal also comments on my playing: "The unmistakable afrobeat presence of "Mr. Sabi," features superb tenor sax work by Michael Eaton, bringing an air of authenticity to the palpitating rhythm."  Naija Rhythm Affair NYC will be released soon! 

Lorens Chuno podcast: Doing Art

Vocalist and pianist Lorens Chuno, on whose upcoming album Naija Rhythm Affair: NYC I appear, sat down with me the last week of June to recorded an episode for his podcast, Doing Art.  We had a great time, and I think the humor and rapport comes through in the interview.  We discuss a variety of subjects: my Kansas City roots; the jazz environment of KC in the 90s; the debate between jazz as entertainment vs. art music; presenting jazz; social and philosophical topics in music; and more.  Doing Art can be downloaded through iTunes or through his site here.  Big thanks to Lorens for having me.

Upcoming Kansas City gigs: Westport Coffee House 8/2, The Ship 8/4

In August,  I will visit my home city of Kansas City, MO, and I will perform two shows.  The first will be on August 2 at Westport Coffee House featuring a saxophone trio of Jeff Harshbarger and John Kizilarmut doing standards and originals.  On Thursday, August 4, I'll perform at The Ship with Peter Schlamb, Jeff Harshbarger, and John Kizilarmut playing the music of Thelonious Monk.  I have wanted to play an all-Monk concert for some time, and this will be my first occasion to to play at The Ship.  More Midwestern gigs for August in Missouri and Indiana are in the works.

I'm also very excited to record an album from August 12-13 with the brilliant trumpeter, composer, and conceptualist, Kyle Quass in Bloomington, IN.  Back in March 2016, Kyle convened a sextet (Kyle Quass' Special Guests) at the Chatterbox in Indianapolis.  I remarked that the group had a great chemistry and assemblage of improvisatory languages, and it would be great to document the group.  The band for the album will consist of Kyle, saxophonist extraordinaire Mark Tuttle, me, Adam Davis on guitar, Jeremy Allen on bass, and Ben Lumsdaine on drums.  The repertoire will be a mix of material with new originals from Kyle and me.

Lorens Chuno: "Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC" in All About Jazz and Jazz Corner

In April, I participated in a recording session for vocalist/pianist/percussionist Lorens Chuno's new album "Naija Rhythm Affair, NYC".  The album is set for release soon, and it features colleagues John Gray (bass) and Michael Vitali (drums) plus guitarist Albino Mbie.  Press releases for "Naija Rhythm Affair" have been posted at AllAboutJazz here, and Jazz Corner here.

Grupo Rebolu on Congahead.com, Beyond Group at ABC No Rio

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 Beyond Trio at ABC No Rio; May 22, 2016. Gene Coleman, Cheryl Pyle, Michael Eaton.

Beyond Group: Live at Spectrum concert recording

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

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." 


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!

Weekend in Indiana: Reflections on Barry Ashton Jazz Festival 2016 and Kyle Quass' Special Guests


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.  

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.


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.


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

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

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.  

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


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.

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.

Photo by Luis Ruiz, Larufoto.


Photo by Luiz Ruiz, Larufoto.


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:


Recording session for Kyle Quass' Special Guests

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Farm Fresh Studios, Bloomington, IN 47408

Recording an album of originals with trumpeter Kyle Quass and saxophonist Mark Tuttle.

Kyle Quass - trumpet Mark Tuttle - tenor saxophone Michael Eaton - tenor saxophone Adam Davis - guitar Jeremy Allen - bass Ben Lumsdaine - drums


Jazz Fables

Bloomington Jazz Festival

Guest artist with Jazz Fables for the Bloomington Jazz Festival.


Jazz Fables Tribute to David Baker

Bear's Place, 1316 E 3rd St, Bloomington, IN 47401

A tribute to a personal mentor and pioneer of jazz education, David Nathaniel Baker.

Tom Walsh - tenor saxophone David Miller - trumpet Michael Eaton - tenor saxophone Luke Gillespie - piano TBA - bass TBA - drums


Recording session with Adam Minkoff

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Brooklyn Recording, Brooklyn, NY

Adam Minkoff's giant 25-30 piece surf project.



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

Adam Minkoff's legendary Randomonium returns!

Adam Minkoff - bass, guitar, vocals Abbey Ahmad - vocals Mark Marshall - guitar Michael Eaton - tenor saxophone Dan Brantigan - trumpet Sean Dixon - drums


Beyond Quintet

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

I'm very excited to play Spectrum with a fabulous group of improvisers, the Beyond Quintet, featuring:

Cheryl Pyle, flute Michael Eaton, soprano sax Bern Nix, guitar Roberta Piket, piano Newman Taylor Baker, drums