Recorded live before a studio audience at the Center for Education at Wolf Trap, this CD captures the essence of pianist, vocalist, musicologist, and humorist John Eaton’s many concert/lectures on the American Popular Song. Join John and legendary bass-man, Jay Leonhart, in a radio-style journey through the music of Richard Rodgers. Sit back, listen, learn, and laugh as John and Jay explore the world of Richard Rodgers–One Man and His Lyricists.
Unquestionably the Washington area’s most popular jazz pianist, as well as an expert raconteur and American music aficionado, John Eaton’s engaging humor and scholarly insight have earned him a fiercely loyal following in the metropolitan area. For his third and final series at The Barns at Wolf Trap this season, Eaton joins bassist Tommy Cecil for a session featuring movie classics including “The More I See You,” “42nd Street,” “It Could Happen to You,” and “Swinging On a Star.”
Eaton has spent close to four decades exploring the great riches of American music, focusing on its jazz heritage and the wide variety of musical styles and composers that have characterized the American popular song. He has a gift for creating an intimate, parlor-like setting out of any performance, drawing his audience in close to ponder the artistry of such American innovators as the Gershwin brothers, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and Benny Goodman. He knows how to entertain and how to make people relax and laugh, but he also possesses rare musical sophistication. Fellow pianist and humorist Mark Russell remarks, “John Eaton is a fine Bordeaux in a supermarket of musical Gatorade.”
As a native son of Washington, D.C., Eaton’s auspicious roots include a pioneering political journalist father, a university president grandfather, and a great-grandfather who led the D’Oyly Carte Opera. A pianist from an early age, young Eaton received a Cum Laude degree from Yale before beginning what he considers the most significant era of his education—his studies with renowned classical teacher, Alexander Lipsky. Throughout their 25-year relationship, Eaton studied and taught the classical repertoire while performing his own unique style of jazz.
In addition to playing everywhere from smoky jazz clubs to prestigious concert halls, Eaton has led a consistently sold-out series on the subject of American popular music at The Smithsonian Institution for over a decade. He has presented similar programs at universities, civic associations, and foundations around the country. Among his most formidable achievements is a command appearance in the East Room at the White House, an appearance as scholar/musician at Chautauqua Institution, recognition as a Steinway Concert Artist, and the release of the critically acclaimed recording, Indiana on Our Mind, dedicated to the music of Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael. In addition, his lecture/concerts on American popular song have been broadcast nationally on public radio and television. During the summers of 2001 and 2002, he did concert tours of the Havana area of Cuba. His most recent release, John Eaton Live at Steinway Hall, features Eaton performing the music of George Gershwin and Harold Arlen on a Gershwin Rhapsody piano. The album earned critical praise, with Dave Nathan of all.about.jazz.com noting, “The outcome is a compelling, attractive play list, made even more attractive in the hands of this master interpreter of American Popular Song.”