by Sylvannia Garutch
Bassist Kyle Eastwood grew up in a home filled with music. He is quoted as telling his father he wanted to be a musician, and the response was incredibly positive. Eastwood explains, “When I told my father, film actor/director Clint Eastwood, I wanted to be a musician, he was happy about it. Music has always been important to my family. My parents gave me my taste in music and my love of jazz from an early age. My father plays piano, my mother used to play, and my mother’s mother was a music teacher at Northwestern University in Illinois. Eastwood performs with his regular bandmates Andrew McCormack (piano); Quentin Collins (trumpet); Brandon Allen (tenor sax); Chris Higginbottom (drums) + Stefano di Batista (saxes); and singers Camille Bertault and Hugh Coltman. His latest recording Cinematic is a collection of both well-known and lesser-known songs from film, which are revisited and reinterpreted in a jazz style.
“Bullitt” has a colorful three horn intro that segues into a funky jazz feel driven by Eastwood and Higginbottom. The orchestration is balanced and full. The melody flows through several feel changes and levels of activity. The tune not only acts as a powerful opener but as an overview of the ‘cinematic’ nature of the project. Eastwood’s solo is kept to a quarter note pulse, which he lays down with authority. McCormack’s solo is a study in space and saying more with less. His feel is energetic and flowing. Collins livens the track with his charismatic solo.
“The Eiger Sanction” fits the ensemble perfectly. The arrangement is inventive and builds to each player’s strength. The waltz feel is relaxed and swinging. Again, Eastwood and Higginbottom keep the feel focused and supportive of the music. Collins’ warm trumpet sound and lyrical phrases are a highlight. McCormack takes the ending motifs of Collins’ solo and builds upon them. His rhythmic feel is in the pocket as he takes us on an adventure of chordal colors and melodic possibilities. Eastwood has an ensemble that is very balanced and through many hours of playing together, full of synergy. The music is exciting and a breath of fresh air.
Cinematic is clearly inspired by Eastwood’s own career, he has contributed music to nine of his father’s films and was nominated with music partner Michael Stevens for a 2006 Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Original Score (Letters from Iwo Jima). In 2014, Eastwood and Matt McGuire contributed to the score of the documentary Homme Less about homeless photographer Mark Reay. The music is, at times, pastoral, and other times adventurous, the rapport of his group is elevated by the compositional depth.