PELL CITY -- The Pell City Library will “jazz it up” at noon Wednesday when Cleveland “Cleve” Eaton and pianist Choko Aiken perform many jazz favorites, according to a press release.
Recognized as one of the best jazz bassists in the country, Eaton has performed on stage or played in recording sessions with various personalities in nearly all music genres, including jazz with John Klemmer and Bucky Green, pop with Minnie Riperton, and big band with George Benson, Henry Mancini, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald.
The jazz concert is part of the library’s ongoing Wild and Wonderful Wednesday series.
Eaton was born Aug. 31, 1939, in Fairfield. He began playing his mother’s piano at age 5, a saxophone by age 8 and the trumpet two years later. His music teacher, John Springer, introduced him to the tuba and string bass at age 15.
After earning his degree in music from Tennessee A&I State University, he embarked on a career spanning almost five decades. While attending college, he performed in a jazz group, and after graduating, he moved to Chicago and toured with the Ike Cole Trio, and later, with Larry Novak, the Ramsey Lewis Trio and with the legendary Count Basie.
He was known as “The Count’s Bassist” during his 16-year stint with the Basie Band.
During the 1960s, he appeared on 30 of the Ramsey Lewis Trio’s recordings, including such hits as “Hang on Sloopy” and “Wade in the Water.” He has also performed with The Temptations, Lou Rawls, The Platters, Sammy Davis Jr. and countless others.
Eaton began performing and touring with his own group, Cleve Eaton and Company, in 1974.
In 2004, his group became known as the Alabama All Stars.
Eaton is recognized worldwide as a producer, arranger, composer, publisher and head of his own Birmingham-based record company.
As a recording artist, his version of the “Bama Boogie Woogie” was a best seller in Germany, Switzerland, France, Australia and the United Kingdom. His 1975 recording of “Plenty Good Eaton” is considered a classic in the funk music genre.
Eaton has received many awards, including the (Alabama) Governor’s Art Award in 1995, the Achievement Award at the Count Basie Tribute Concert and the Don Redman Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. He is a member of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
He was nominated to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1993 and inducted in February 2008.
Aiken was born in Japan and began her study of classical piano when she was 3.
She went on to study piano, violin, voice and music theory at colleges in Tokyo and Fukuoka, and to study jazz in Los Angeles and New York.
She left her music associations, including a performance group with whom she performed called Tri-Voices, as well as several other bands in Japan, to relocate to the United States in 2013 after meeting her husband, Jeff. He was in Tokyo along with several other runners to participate in a race as a member of the Birmingham Track Club.
Since her relocation to the United States, she has played at many of the local venues in The Magic City, including, but not limited to, the Moss Rock Festival, 4th Avenue Jazz Festival, Creek Bank Festival, Mt. Brook Arts Festival and Eric Essix Jazz Escape.
An accomplished pianist, she plays a variety of musical genres, including jazz, salsa, pops and the blues. Her album, “Imagination,” recorded in Los Angeles in 2011, was featured in the February 2011 issue of JAZZIZ magazine.
Wednesday’s Jazz program is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served after the performance.