A gun­slinger’s son plays the bass

Kyle East­wood Quin­tet re­gales Beirut at Liban Jazz’s clos­ing con­cert for 2018

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - ARTS & CULTURE - By Maghie Ghali

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.

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