Cleveland ("Cleve") Eaton
b. 1939, Fairfield, Alabama, U.S.A.
Cleve Eaton began the study of music when he was only five years old. Ten years later he had mastered the piano, trumpet, and saxophone. When a teacher allowed him to take a bass home for practice, Eaton spent nearly every waking hour learning the instrument.
He became what many call one of the best Jazz bassists in the business. Cleveland made a name for himself as a composer, producer, and arranger.
Eaton left his birthplace behind and moved to Chicago, Illinois. He soon began recording with the Ramsey Lewis Trio. During a decade of service, Eaton performed on 30 recordings with the trio. Four of those albums went gold, and so did just as many singles, including 'Wade in the Water' and 'Hang on Sloopy.'
In 1979, Eaton was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
With the popularity of jazz fusion increasing he switched to this style for 'The Eaton Menu', 'Plenty Good Eaton' (1975), including 'Chi-Town Theme', on the Black Jazz label before switching to Ovation records in 1976 for 'Instant Hip', including his dance classic 'Bama Boogie Woogie'.
'Keep Love Alive', including the UK single 'Birmingham Train', was released in 1979. The same year he became a member of the Count Basie Orchestra. While in the orchestra he added another ten albums to his resume.
All together, he has lent his talents on some where over a 100 albums, and composed about three times as many songs.
Eaton, as a nominee for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, finally returned to Birmingham in 1985. There he put together a band of his own, Cleve Eaton & Co. The ensemble has recorded tunes like 'Corner Pocket,' and 'The B'ham Shuffle.' Most of the group's numbers mix R & B and pop in with jazz.
Cleve currently teaches and performs with his group, "The Alabama All-Stars," which includes such notable Birmingham musicians as trumpeter Tommy Stewart, guitarist Carlos Pino, trombonist Chad Fisher, saxophonist Gary Wheat, saxophonist Dave Amaral, drummer John Nuckols and pianist Ray Reach. (Reach is Director of Student Jazz Programs at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.)
During his long career, Cleveland Eaton has performed with many great artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, the Temptations, John Klemmer, Miles Davis, Smokey Robinson, Sarah Vaughn, Walter Jackson, and many others.
The Eaton Menu (Black Jazz 1975) Plenty Good Eaton (Black Jazz 1975) Instant Hip (Ovation 1976) Bama Boogie Woogie (Miracle 1979) Keep Love Alive (Miracle 1980)