Cleveland Eaton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Cleveland "Cleve" Eaton
Cleveland Eaton.jpg
Cleve Eaton
Background information
Birth name Cleveland Josephus Eaton II
Born (1939-08-31) August 31, 1939 (age 78)
Fairfield, Alabama, U.S.
Genres Jazz, swing, funk, R&B, pop
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, arranger, bandleader, record producer
Instruments Double bass
Years active 1960–present
Associated acts Ramsey Lewis, Count Basie Orchestra

Cleveland Josephus "Cleve" Eaton II (born August 31, 1939) is an American jazz double bassist, producer, arranger, composer, publisher, and head of his own record company from Fairfield, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham. His most famous accomplishments are playing with the Ramsey Lewis Trio and the Count Basie Orchestra. His 1975 recording Plenty Good Eaton is considered a classic in the funk music genre.[1] He has been inducted into both the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.[2][3][4][5]


Eaton began studying music at the age of five, and by the time he was fifteen, he had mastered the piano, trumpet, and saxophone. He began playing bass when a teacher allowed him to take one home, spending nearly every waking hour learning the instrument. This lead him to become what many call one of the most versatile and best jazz bassists in the business.[6][7] Eaton came from a music-loving family, including an older sister who studied at both Fisk University and the Juilliard School of Music in New York. He was also a student of John T. "Fess" Whatley, one of the most influential and well-known educators in American jazz music during the 1920s and 1930s. who also mentored Sun Ra and Erskine Hawkins.[8][9] Eaton played in a jazz group in college at Tennessee A & I State University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in music. He has lent his talents to over 100 albums, and composed about three times as many songs.[10][11] After spending years on the road as a musician and arranger with a list of artists who form a virtual Who’s Who of jazz, Eaton returned to Birmingham, Alabama, to join UAB’s music department in 1996.[12]

Eaton has played on notable recording sessions with nearly all genres – jazz with John Klemmer, Ike Cole and Bunky Green, R&B with The Dells and Bobby Rush, pop with Minnie Riperton, Jerry Butler and Rotary Connection, big band music with George Benson, Henry Mancini, Frank Sinatra, Joe Williams, Billy Eckstein, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald. Eaton was dubbed “the Count’s Bassist” during his seventeen-year stint and over ten recordings with the Count Basie Orchestra. Eaton has also performed with Nancy Wilson, Peggy Lee, Mimi Hines, Sammy Davis, Jr., Julie London, Bobby Troupe, Brook Benton, Lou Rawls, Nipsey Russell, Morgana King, Gloria Lynne, Herbie Hancock, the Magic City Jazz Orchestra, The Platters (original), The Temptations, and The Miracles. In 1974, he began performing and touring with his own group, Cleve Eaton and Co., and in 2004 his group became Cleve Eaton and the Alabama All Stars.[13]

According to the May 7–14, 2009 issue of the Birmingham Weekly, a free weekly paper, Eaton was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2009. In January 2011, his official website reported that he was cancer free. He and his wife, Myra Eaton, currently reside in Birmingham, Alabama, and he continues to perform at local venues, such as the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, and at jazz festivals, such as the Jacksonville Jazz Festival and Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival.[14][15]

Cleve Eaton pictured at a rehearsal before performing at the 2008 Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival in Birmingham, Alabama.


As leader[edit]

  • 1973: Half and Half (Gamble)
  • 1975: The Eaton Menu
  • 1975: Plenty Good Eaton (Black Jazz)
  • 1976: Instant Hip (Ovation)
  • 1979: Keep Love Alive (Ovation)
  • 1979: Bama Boogie Woogie (Miracle)
  • 1980: Strolling With The Count (Ovation)
  • 1983: Love and Dance (TBA)
  • 1983: Raw 'Live Jazz' Featuring Miss Funky Lu (TBA)
  • 1984: A Classic (Cleveland Eaton Enterprises)
  • 1985: Vol. 1 Live (TBA)
  • 1997: Cleve Eaton Orchestra

As sideman[edit]

With Ramsey Lewis

With the Count Basie Orchestra

  • Kansas City Shout (1980). Pablo
  • Warm Breeze (1981).
  • 88 Basie Street (1983). Fantasy. (Winner 1984 Grammy Awards Best Jazz Instrumental Performance - Big Band)
  • Me and You (Pablo, 1983)
  • Fancy Pants (1983).
  • The Legend, the Legacy (1989)
  • George Benson/Count Basie Orchestra Big Boss Band (1990).
  • Best of the Count Basie Big Band (1991)
  • Live at El Morocco (1992).
  • Joe Williams/Count Basie Orchestra "I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water" (1992)
  • Joe Williams/Count Basie Orchestra "Orchestra Hall, Detroit, November 20, 1992" (1992)

With Bunky Green

  • Playing for Keeps (1966)

With Gene Ammons

With the Soulful Strings

With Robert Moore

  • Serve You Ma'am (2000)
  • Wildcat (2005)


  • Santa's Bag: An All-Star Jazz Christmas "Christmas Blues" (1994) Telarc


  1. ^ Allmusic biography
  2. ^ Alabama Music Hall of Fame Cleveland Eaton Page
  3. ^ Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame Inductees
  4. ^ Southern Living Magazine, The DailySouth Blog, April 9, 2008
  5. ^ Fuqua, C.S. (2011). Alabama Musicians: Musical Heritage from the Heart of Dixie. The History Press. ISBN 9781609491574. 
  6. ^ Fuqua, C.S. (2011). Alabama Musicians: Musical Heritage from the Heart of Dixie. The History Press. ISBN 9781609491574. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Bhamwiki:John Tuggle "Fess" Whatley
  9. ^ Encyclopedia of Alabama: John T. "Fess" Whatley
  10. ^
  11. ^ Alabama Music Hall of Fame Cleveland Eaton Page
  12. ^ Short, Dale (Fall 1997) "UAB's Jazz Man: Cleveland Eaton" UAB Magazine Vol. 17, No. 4
  13. ^ Alabama Music Hall of Fame Cleveland Eaton Page
  14. ^ Cleveland Eaton Facebook Page
  15. ^ Tallahassee Magazine TMAG Blog 2016 News

External links[edit]