Cleveland Josephus Eaton II
was raised with an intense comprehensive musical background. He was playing his mother’s piano at the age of five, and turned his efforts toward the saxophone by the time he was eight. Eaton took up the trumpet two years later, and when he reached the age of fifteen, music teacher John Springer introduced him to the tuba and string bass.
Eaton played in a jazz group in college at Tennessee A & I State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in music. He then moved to Chicago and toured with the Ike Cole Trio. He later performed memorable concert tours with top-notch jazz bands led by Larry Novak, Ramsey Lewis, and the legendary Count Basie.
Over the years, Cleveland Eaton became a consummate bassist, producer, composer, publisher, arranger, and head of his own Birmingham-based record company. As a recording artist, Mr. Eaton’s version of Bama Boogie Woogie became a phenomenal best seller in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Australia.
Eaton’s numerous honors include his induction into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, the Playboy Jazz Poll, Canada’s Cultural Enhancement Award and the Achievement Award at the Count Basie Tribute Concert. He was nominated to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1993 and inducted in February, 2008. He received the Governor’s Arts Award 1995 (Alabama) and the Don Redman Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.
Cleve Eaton is a recognized name in the jazz world, as a producer, composer, arranger, and for his incredible performances with the Ike Cole Trio, Donald Byrd-Pepper Adams Quintet, the Larry Novak Trio, and over thirty recordings in his ten years with the Ramsey Lewis Trio, which included four gold singles, including Hang on Sloopy and Wade in the Water. There were four gold albums, including Solar Wind and Sun Goddess.
Eaton has played on notable recording sessions with nearly all genres – jazz with John Klemmer and Bunky Green, R&B with the Dells and Bobby Rush, pop with Minnie Riperton, Jerry Butler and Rotary Connection, big band with Henry Mancini, Frank Sinatra, Joe Williams, Billy Eckstein, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and many more. Eaton was dubbed “the Count’s Bassist” during his sixteen-year stint with the Count Basie Orchestra. Since 1974, he has performed and toured with his own group, Cleve Eaton and Co. Since 2004, the name of the band has been Cleve Eaton and the Alabama All Stars.