A gunslinger’s son plays the bass
Kyle Eastwood Quintet regales Beirut at Liban Jazz’s closing concert for 2018
BEIRUT: Kyle Eastwood may stand like his father, actor Clint Eastwood, but he smiles more than the brooding star. Performing at MusicHall Wednesday night, the Kyle Eastwood Quintet made the final Liban Jazz concert of 2018 a pleasant evening of classic, instrumental jazz.
The younger Eastwood’s connection to cinema is as a composer, and he’s scored many films, including some of his father’s – “Million Dollar Baby,” “Gran Torino” and “Invictus” to name a few.
Since 1998, his quintet has released eight studio albums, with the tracks of the 2017 album “In Transit” making up most of their Beirut set list. The album mixes jazz standards, including titles by Count Basie, Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk, and original songs, both soundtrack pieces and freestanding tunes.
Joined onstage by pianist Andrew McCormack, drummer Chris Higginbottom, Brandon Allen on saxophone and trumpeter Quentin Collins, Eastwood flipped between double bass and bass guitar.
Their opening number, “Rockin’ Ronnie’s,” is intended as a tribute piece to jazz legend Ronnie Scott.
The track serves as a convenient first song as each musician is given a solo section to show off their skills to the audience.
Eastwood then took the opportunity to chat with the audience, sharing his appreciation for his first-ever visit to Lebanon.
Other than naming tracks between songs, Eastwood indulges in little chitchat, perhaps inheriting his father’s quiet persona.
“Soulful Times” is a melodic easy-listening number, spiced up with Allen’s attention-arresting sax solo. The most interesting track of the evening was an older piece from Eastwood’s 2004 album “Paris Blues,” called “Marrakech.”
More experimental than most of his playlist, the track is inspired by his travels around Africa and Morocco, Eastwood says, and uses Oriental music modes.
“Marrakech” also reflects the composer’s movie know-how, with a belt of bells jangled by the drummer and McCormack creating sound affects with a synth, making it easy to imagine the piece scoring a desert scene.
After a lively tune dedicated to U.S. singer Al Jarreau, the crowd perked up at the mention of the next track, Ennio Morricone’s film soundtrack number “Cinema Paradiso (Love Theme).” Sticking with the mellow theme, the cover of Charles Mingus’ “Boogie Stop Shuffle” began with only Eastwood onstage, leading in the iconic bass line, before the rest of the band rejoined him to jazz up the performance.
The final tune was dominated by a drum and double bass solo, with catchy rhythms that led to a footstomping encore.
Marching back onstage, the quintet performed “Movin’” – complete with one last sax solo.
Kyle Eastwood’s music serves up an easy-listening jazz experience the kind of thing that might be played in the background of an intimate gathering or in the car during a late-night drive.
He’s not reinventing the jazz wheel and often relies on sax appeal to liven up the otherwise steadygoing compositions, but Eastwood’s jazz is an enjoyable live show that’s easy to bop along to.
Kyle Eastwood’s music serves up an easy-listening jazz experience.