Jazz bassist Kyle Eastwood has now been in the record-making business for, are you ready, 17 years. When you consider that the 46-year old son of Clint Eastwood has been making records for that long – since 1998’s arresting “From Here to There” (in which one of his guest stars was no less than Joni Mitchell) – anyone deluded into thinking there’s anything of the spoiled and indulged tyro about him is completely mistaken.
This is very good jazz disc by an accomplished veteran player who says that it is, in part, “a return to my jazz roots and influences.” Not least, the influences of his “favorite jazz composers like Horace Silver and Herbie Hancock.”
Silver, in particular, died during the course of this disc being made and his influence is, without question, the most salutary thing about it – not just in the version of Silver’s “Blowin’ the Blues Away” or the tribute to Silver “Peace of Silver” but in the blistering hard bop solos of the formidable quintet of English jazz musicians that comprise Eastwood’s working band. Trumpet player Quentin Collins, pianist Andrew McCormack and Brandon Allen on tenor saxophone are players that any young American jazz group would be delighted to have.
It might have been better in truth, if Eastwood had been dissuaded from taking so many solos on the disc – and at the very least not giving in to the temptation to play the melody line of Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance” on the electric bass (where, inevitably, Hancock’s gorgeously lyrical tune runs the danger of becoming, as they say on “American Idol,” “pitchy”).
But that’s not because he can’t play because he can – superbly.
Let’s be honest about Eastwood: he grew up in a house where a star is a star is a star. And some prerogatives come with that. (Like a lot of solos on your own discs.) Add too the obvious influence of great virtuoso electric bass show-off Jaco Pastorious and you can’t blame Eastwood for taking as many solos as he does.
That’s especially understandable when you remember how deficient in solo wattage from both Eastwood and his friends that first Kyle Eastwood disc was.
Not this one. The soloing here is plentiful, robust and sometimes blistering and virtuosic, whether the tune is fusion or hard bop.
It remains too bad that his residence in Europe prohibits him from the kind of extensive touring in America that might make him into the star over here that he deserves to be.
Kyle Eastwood would be getting major jazz work even if his name were Kyle McGillicuddy. The members of his band would be worth hearing under any circumstances, too.
– Jeff Simon