Michael Eaton (b. 1981) is a Brooklyn, NY based saxophonist, composer, and educator. As a saxophonist and improvising artist, his professional career to date has spanned a variety of idioms, encompassing jazz, free improvised music, soul, rock, western classical, funk, reggae, brass bands, and beyond. He embraces a progressive and holistic vision of jazz, cognizant of its rich history and development, but reaches for a personal outlook with an eye towards future possibilities.
Michael leads Individuation, an ensemble which combines aspects of postminimalism, world rhythms, and free improvisation with modern jazz. Their latest album is Dialogical, released May 3, 2019 on Destiny Records. Dialogical centers around the themes of dialogical thinking and interconnections between a multiplicity of styles and musicians. JazzTimes writes "'Serious play' may be a cliché by now, but it exemplifies the spirit that dances through this set," and AllAboutJazz says "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." The recording is made up of all original compositions and improvisations with a stellar cast of musicians, plus a very special guest artist, Lionel Loueke (guitar and vocals).
Michael's 2014 debut album on Destiny, Individuation, highlights original music performed by the quartet along with trumpeter Jon Crowley. Individuation combines angular themes and propulsive modern jazz with intricate minimalistic vamps, freebop, John Cageian prepared piano, and multi-layered platforms. The band is joined on several cuts by a very special guest, NEA Jazz Master and saxophonist David Liebman. Scott Yanow (All Music Guide, Downbeat) calls Individuation a "rather impressive debut, the start of what will surely be a very significant solo career", and Vitto Lo Conte writes in Music Zoom that it signifies "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".
Eaton also heads Tenor Triage, a cooperative band with fellow tenor saxophonists James Brandon Lewis, and Sean Sonderegger. Tenor Triage is a freewheeling and outward bound spin on the classic three tenor format The band’s chemistry melds harmolodics and firey, hymnic free jazz with deep groove and gritty polyphony. The band's September 13 debut on Ropeadope Records, Tenor Triage, outlines their vision through original music plus a tune by Dewey Redman. The tenors are joined by bassist Brad Jones and drummer Calvin Weston (both alumni of Ornette Coleman’s ensembles). The band dedicates “Tenor Triage” to their late bandmate, harmolodic guitar master Bern Nix.
Michael performs frequently in NYC with flutist/composer/lyricist Cheryl Pyle, often in Beyond Group, a free improvised chamber group with actively rotating personnel and orchestrations; sometimes duo, trio, quartet, or larger. Musicians who have played with Beyond include: guitarist Bern Nix, percussionist Newman Taylor Baker, pianist Roberta Piket, bassoonist Claire de Brunner, bassist Hilliard Greene, flutist Gene Coleman, baritone saxophonist Claire Daly, alto saxophonist Daniel Carter, flutist Jamie Baum, vocalist Judi Silvano, and drummer Reggie Sylvester. Composer/conductor Carman Moore occasionally augments the group to conduct their improvisations.
Eaton co-leads Second Nature Ensemble with guitarist/composer Seth Davis in Kansas City, Missouri. Second Nature is a new music collective that fuses free jazz, contemporary classical, and noise improv with post minimalism, math rock, and electronic beats. Eaton and Davis release the eponymous Symbiotique, documenting their duo collaboration, on May 1 on their newly founded Mother Brain Records label. The album consists of improvisations and electroacoustic compositions with effects and samples.