The jazz world lost a true legend when bassist Cleveland Eaton passed away in the Summer of 2020. This 1975 album, one of the real gems in the hallowed Black Jazz label catalog, takes the full measure of the man. Cleve recorded Plenty Good Eaton right after he left Ramsey Lewis’ band, with whom he recorded a grand total of 17 (!) different albums for such labels as Argo, Cadet and Columbia, including the hit records Wade in the Water, Another Voyage, and Sun Goddess. Then, starting in 1980, Eaton spent a dozen years with Count Basie’s band, and if you can imagine some blend of Lewis’ soul-funk with Basie’s hard-driving swing, you might just begin to grasp what’s on the menu of Plenty Good Eaton (the album graphics actually present the credits and songs as if they were menu entrees).
This truly is fusion cuisine, and it’s (sorry) cookin’, too, ranging from the Blaxploitation soundtrack stylings of “Keena,” “All Your Lover All Day All Night,” and “Hamburg 302,” all of which incorporate disco-style strings into funky soul-jazz vamps, to the almost trad-jazz of “Kaiser 405,” to the Philly soul of “Are You Out There Somewhere Caring,” to the out-and-out party anthem “Moe Let’s Have a Party.” The cooks in the kitchen are first-rate, too, including such Chess-label stalwarts as keyboardist Odell Brown and percussionist Morris Jennings and fellow Black Jazz label artists Steve Galloway and Arie Brown of The Awakening. This long-awaited and timely reissue of Plenty Good Eaton features a fresh remastering by Mike Milchner of SonicVision, plus notes by Pat Thomas that include remembrances from Cleve’s widow Myra and long-time friend Lee Shook. A musical meal not to miss!