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Kyle Eastwood Band - Kyle Eastwood Band, Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton, 26/04/2014. Rating: 4-5 out of 5 It was hard to fault this performance by the Eastwood Band with all five musicians excelling both individually and collectively in a well drilled unit. This was one of those gigs that became AN EVENT.

Kyle Eastwood Band, Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton, 26/04/2014.


Yes, bassist and composer Kyle Eastwood really is the son of screen legend Clint Eastwood, let’s just get that out of the way first.

The younger Eastwood is to be congratulated for escaping from the giant shadow cast by his father and forging a successful career for himself in a completely different discipline. However I can’t pretend that I’ve always got on with his music, I recall reviewing a copy of his 2007 album “Now” and being very disappointed. The album was blighted by a surfeit of syrupy synths and bland programmed beats courtesy of guitarist/keyboardist/producer Michael Stevens plus the ineffectual pop soul vocals of Jamie Cullum’s older brother Ben. Eastwood concentrated mainly on electric bass and seemed to be seeking some kind of crossover audience. Despite some strong instrumental moments and the presence of several leading UK jazz musicians, including tonight’s pianist Andrew McCormack, the overall package failed to convince. I’ve not heard any of Eastwood’s recorded output since this time,  the albums “Metropolitan”, “Songs From The Château” and “The View From Here”,  but suspect that all represent a significant improvement. Interestingly nothing from “Now” was included in tonight’s repertoire.

Fortunately my live sightings of Eastwood have proved to be more enjoyable. The Arena Theatre’s Alison Vermee presented an earlier edition of the Eastwood band at her former venue The Edge in Much Wenlock way back in 2008. This was before I started reporting regularly from that venue and I remember disregarding the evidence of “Now” and taking a chance and attending as a paying punter. This live show by a group that again included McCormack was a vast improvement on the album, a proper jazz performance and a well attended and successful event. 

Six years on I therefore had no hesitation about checking out the current version of the Eastwood band with its stellar line up of UK based musicians including McCormack on piano, Quentin Collins on trumpet and flugelhorn, Graeme Blevins on tenor and soprano saxes and Chris Draper at the drums, the latter a last minute substitute for the advertised Ernesto Simpson.

Although born in the US Eastwood has always collaborated with British musicians and McCormack, Collins and the Australian born, London based Blevins know his music inside out. Draper, replacing the Cuban born Simpson was the only performer actually reading music but he rose magnificently to the task and slotted in seamlessly alongside his colleagues. The intimate 150 seat Arena was completely sold out giving the gig a great atmosphere and with the always excellent Peter Maxwell Dickson at the mixing desk the live sound was typically immaculate. These factors combined with the superb musicianship to turn this into a truly memorable event, something also encouraged by Eastwood’s ability to structure a performance and work a crowd. The two sets were artfully constructed to achieve the maximum audience response but did so without suggesting any element of condescension. The majority of the material was original, most of it inspired by Eastwood’s travels, with judicious elements of world music enlivening the mix. Covers included tunes by such respected jazz composers as Herbie Hancock and Horace Silver plus a version of Bob Haggart and Ray Bauduc’s “Big Noise From Winnetka”.   

Eastwood began playing a bright green five string electric bass on his own “From Rio to Havana”, the opening track on his latest album “The View From Here”. As the title might suggest Latin rhythmic inflections combined with elements of funk to establish a powerful groove, this in turn inspiring the front line soloists. Blevins went first on soulful tenor followed by Collins on blazing trumpet. The pair have played together in Collins’ own band which explores the versatile trumpeter’s love of jazz, soul and funk. McCormack is an inspired piano soloist as his recent performance in Shrewsbury as part of a quartet led by saxophonist Jean Toussaint confirmed. Here his combination of scintillating right hand runs and thunderous block chords was totally irresistible.

The leader switched to a “cello style” acoustic bass for “Samba de Paris” with its lilting Brazilian rhythms, a tune sourced from the “Metropolitan” album. I prefer him on the acoustic instrument and as he picked out the melody it merely helped to emphasise what a masterful bassist he is, something confirmed by his subsequent solo, an immaculate demonstration of his agility and dexterity. Blevins on tenor and Collins on trumpet maintained the standards before a closing feature from “supersub” Draper.

The hugely atmospheric “Marrakech” dates back to the early album “Paris Blue” and began with the trio of Eastwood, McCormack and Draper and a lengthy impressionistic episode featuring interior piano scrapings, ghostly cymbal shimmers and scrapes and the leader’s bowing which ranged from the eerie to the highly percussive. This highly effective bout of almost free playing came as a most welcome surprise. The mood switched to something more obviously North African as Draper struck up a groove and Eastwood switched to a black five string electric model, similar in shape to its green companion. Blevins’ soprano evoked the sound of the desert and he was followed by McCormack at the piano, his feverish solo again culminating in a series of crashing block chords, these augmented by Draper’s dynamic drumming. Eventually Blevins’ soprano erupted from the darkness like the sun emerging from clouds, a prodigiously sustained single note generating roars of approval from the audience. Eventually it was left to Eastwood’s solo electric bass to end the piece as quietly as it had begun. Full of contrasts and cinematic in its scope this was easily the most impressive item thus far.

Following this tour de force Eastwood eased us into the interval with something rather less demanding but equally effective. His version of “Big Noise From Winnetka” also appears on “Paris Blue” and is an updating of a tune written by bassist Bob Haggart and drummer Ray Bauduc of Bob Crosby’s Bobcats in Chicago way back in 1938. Eastwood described first hearing the tune as a child on one of Clint’s old 78s. Like Haggart before him Eastwood whistled the melody whilst accompanying himself on acoustic bass, subsequently soloing instrumentally and trading licks with drummer Draper. The two horn men provided short, punchy unison phrases before embarking on their solos, Blevins going first on tenor. However this was Collins’ showcase as his horn evoked the sound of a swarm of angry wasps before producing some dazzling high register trumpeting which again drew a frenzied response from the audience. Eastwood had meanwhile switched to his green electric on which he delivered a second solo before his whistling coalesced with the horns for a final restatement of the theme. This was a good fun way to go into the break with audience smiles all round.

The second set followed a similar trajectory beginning with the Blevins original “Tonic”, which appears on the Eastwood album “Songs From The Chateau”, and is perhaps a dedication to the now defunct New York jazz club. Introduced by Eastwood on solo acoustic bass the piece saw the leader providing an agile and absorbing counterpoint to Blevins’ lengthy tenor feature, the saxophonist really “digging in” before combining with Collins for a final restatement of the theme.

Herbie Hancock’s classic “Dolphin Dance” represented another well chosen outside item, the pianist being one of Eastwood’s favourite jazz composers. This featured Eastwood on beautiful “Jaco style” liquid electric bass, picking out and embellishing the melody before being followed by the supremely eloquent Collins on flugel and McCormack at the piano.

This set’s impressionistic episode came with “Letters From Iwo Jima”, a piece of film music written by Eastwood who is a busy and accomplished composer for the cinema. The piece was delivered as an intimate duet by Eastwood on his black electric bass and McCormack at the piano, the composer often being responsible for the melody and with his playing, often in the higher registers of his instrument surpassing even that on “Dolphin Dance” in terms of beauty. I seem recall this item also being a highlight at the Much Wenlock show all those years ago.

Once again the set concluded with an outpouring of energy with the band composition “Une Nuit au Senegal” with its African high life feel, bright punchy horns and crisp, infectious electric bass and drum grooves. Collins and Blevins delighted in a series of fiery trumpet and tenor exchanges, McCormack was thrillingly percussive and exuberant at the piano, the horn men clapping along in encouragement from the side of the stage. Infectiously interlocking grooves were created by electric bass, dampened piano strings and drums culminating in a dynamic drum feature from Draper before Collins and Blevins returned for a final run down of the theme.

In a well constructed show Eastwood had again closed proceedings on an energetic high and was awarded with a standing ovation ,still something of a rarity even at this most enthusiastic of venues. The quintet returned for a good natured, high octane burn up on Horace Silver’s classic blues “Blowin’ The Blues Away” with Eastwood’s super-fast acoustic bass walk fuelling McCormack’s opening solo. However just to prove the unpredictable nature of live music the spike on Eastwood’s bass retracted into the body of the instrument to comic effect pressing the grinning Draper into an impromptu drum feature as Eastwood effected running repairs. The bassist soon picked up where he left off before handing over to Draper for his scheduled solo and later linking up for a series of sparky exchanges with the two horns. Minor mishap aside this was great fun and an enjoyable end to a terrific evening.

It was hard to fault this performance by the Eastwood Band with all five musicians excelling both individually and collectively in a well drilled unit. The pacing of the show was superb and the listener’s enjoyment was further enhanced by the quality of the sound. With an attentive but enthusiastic capacity crowd in attendance this was one of those gigs that became AN EVENT.

Eastwood, McCormack, Collins and Blevins have been making music together for a long time and are obviously very comfortable with each other’s playing and form a well honed team with Eastwood’s leadership subtle but dominant throughout. However I’d like to single Chris Draper out for praise, he was parachuted into this tight knit set up and acquitted himself superbly, never putting a stick wrong and even bailing his leader out towards the end.

On the evidence of tonight’s performance it’s perhaps time that I undertook a re-evaluation of young Mr. Eastwood’s oeuvre. 
 

Remaining UK dates include;


Tue Apr 29th 2014
Eastleigh UK
The Concorde Club
The Concorde Club Stoneham Lane, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO50 9HQ, UK


Wed Apr 30th 2014
Wimborne Minster, UK
THE TIVOLI THEATRE
West Borough, Wimborne Minster Doeset BH21 1LT


Fri May 2nd 2014
Isle Of Wight UK ***
Isle of Wight Jazz Festival
http://artsisle.org/kyleeastwood.html


http://www.kyleeastwood.com       

Kyle Eastwood Band, Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton, 26/04/2014.

Kyle Eastwood Band

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Live Review

4-5 out of 5

Kyle Eastwood Band, Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton, 26/04/2014.
Photography: Photograph of Kyle Eastwood sourced from the Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton website http://www.wlv.ac.uk/default.aspx?page=31282

It was hard to fault this performance by the Eastwood Band with all five musicians excelling both individually and collectively in a well drilled unit. This was one of those gigs that became AN EVENT.

Kyle Eastwood Band, Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton, 26/04/2014.


Yes, bassist and composer Kyle Eastwood really is the son of screen legend Clint Eastwood, let’s just get that out of the way first.

The younger Eastwood is to be congratulated for escaping from the giant shadow cast by his father and forging a successful career for himself in a completely different discipline. However I can’t pretend that I’ve always got on with his music, I recall reviewing a copy of his 2007 album “Now” and being very disappointed. The album was blighted by a surfeit of syrupy synths and bland programmed beats courtesy of guitarist/keyboardist/producer Michael Stevens plus the ineffectual pop soul vocals of Jamie Cullum’s older brother Ben. Eastwood concentrated mainly on electric bass and seemed to be seeking some kind of crossover audience. Despite some strong instrumental moments and the presence of several leading UK jazz musicians, including tonight’s pianist Andrew McCormack, the overall package failed to convince. I’ve not heard any of Eastwood’s recorded output since this time,  the albums “Metropolitan”, “Songs From The Château” and “The View From Here”,  but suspect that all represent a significant improvement. Interestingly nothing from “Now” was included in tonight’s repertoire.

Fortunately my live sightings of Eastwood have proved to be more enjoyable. The Arena Theatre’s Alison Vermee presented an earlier edition of the Eastwood band at her former venue The Edge in Much Wenlock way back in 2008. This was before I started reporting regularly from that venue and I remember disregarding the evidence of “Now” and taking a chance and attending as a paying punter. This live show by a group that again included McCormack was a vast improvement on the album, a proper jazz performance and a well attended and successful event. 

Six years on I therefore had no hesitation about checking out the current version of the Eastwood band with its stellar line up of UK based musicians including McCormack on piano, Quentin Collins on trumpet and flugelhorn, Graeme Blevins on tenor and soprano saxes and Chris Draper at the drums, the latter a last minute substitute for the advertised Ernesto Simpson.

Although born in the US Eastwood has always collaborated with British musicians and McCormack, Collins and the Australian born, London based Blevins know his music inside out. Draper, replacing the Cuban born Simpson was the only performer actually reading music but he rose magnificently to the task and slotted in seamlessly alongside his colleagues. The intimate 150 seat Arena was completely sold out giving the gig a great atmosphere and with the always excellent Peter Maxwell Dickson at the mixing desk the live sound was typically immaculate. These factors combined with the superb musicianship to turn this into a truly memorable event, something also encouraged by Eastwood’s ability to structure a performance and work a crowd. The two sets were artfully constructed to achieve the maximum audience response but did so without suggesting any element of condescension. The majority of the material was original, most of it inspired by Eastwood’s travels, with judicious elements of world music enlivening the mix. Covers included tunes by such respected jazz composers as Herbie Hancock and Horace Silver plus a version of Bob Haggart and Ray Bauduc’s “Big Noise From Winnetka”.   

Eastwood began playing a bright green five string electric bass on his own “From Rio to Havana”, the opening track on his latest album “The View From Here”. As the title might suggest Latin rhythmic inflections combined with elements of funk to establish a powerful groove, this in turn inspiring the front line soloists. Blevins went first on soulful tenor followed by Collins on blazing trumpet. The pair have played together in Collins’ own band which explores the versatile trumpeter’s love of jazz, soul and funk. McCormack is an inspired piano soloist as his recent performance in Shrewsbury as part of a quartet led by saxophonist Jean Toussaint confirmed. Here his combination of scintillating right hand runs and thunderous block chords was totally irresistible.

The leader switched to a “cello style” acoustic bass for “Samba de Paris” with its lilting Brazilian rhythms, a tune sourced from the “Metropolitan” album. I prefer him on the acoustic instrument and as he picked out the melody it merely helped to emphasise what a masterful bassist he is, something confirmed by his subsequent solo, an immaculate demonstration of his agility and dexterity. Blevins on tenor and Collins on trumpet maintained the standards before a closing feature from “supersub” Draper.

The hugely atmospheric “Marrakech” dates back to the early album “Paris Blue” and began with the trio of Eastwood, McCormack and Draper and a lengthy impressionistic episode featuring interior piano scrapings, ghostly cymbal shimmers and scrapes and the leader’s bowing which ranged from the eerie to the highly percussive. This highly effective bout of almost free playing came as a most welcome surprise. The mood switched to something more obviously North African as Draper struck up a groove and Eastwood switched to a black five string electric model, similar in shape to its green companion. Blevins’ soprano evoked the sound of the desert and he was followed by McCormack at the piano, his feverish solo again culminating in a series of crashing block chords, these augmented by Draper’s dynamic drumming. Eventually Blevins’ soprano erupted from the darkness like the sun emerging from clouds, a prodigiously sustained single note generating roars of approval from the audience. Eventually it was left to Eastwood’s solo electric bass to end the piece as quietly as it had begun. Full of contrasts and cinematic in its scope this was easily the most impressive item thus far.

Following this tour de force Eastwood eased us into the interval with something rather less demanding but equally effective. His version of “Big Noise From Winnetka” also appears on “Paris Blue” and is an updating of a tune written by bassist Bob Haggart and drummer Ray Bauduc of Bob Crosby’s Bobcats in Chicago way back in 1938. Eastwood described first hearing the tune as a child on one of Clint’s old 78s. Like Haggart before him Eastwood whistled the melody whilst accompanying himself on acoustic bass, subsequently soloing instrumentally and trading licks with drummer Draper. The two horn men provided short, punchy unison phrases before embarking on their solos, Blevins going first on tenor. However this was Collins’ showcase as his horn evoked the sound of a swarm of angry wasps before producing some dazzling high register trumpeting which again drew a frenzied response from the audience. Eastwood had meanwhile switched to his green electric on which he delivered a second solo before his whistling coalesced with the horns for a final restatement of the theme. This was a good fun way to go into the break with audience smiles all round.

The second set followed a similar trajectory beginning with the Blevins original “Tonic”, which appears on the Eastwood album “Songs From The Chateau”, and is perhaps a dedication to the now defunct New York jazz club. Introduced by Eastwood on solo acoustic bass the piece saw the leader providing an agile and absorbing counterpoint to Blevins’ lengthy tenor feature, the saxophonist really “digging in” before combining with Collins for a final restatement of the theme.

Herbie Hancock’s classic “Dolphin Dance” represented another well chosen outside item, the pianist being one of Eastwood’s favourite jazz composers. This featured Eastwood on beautiful “Jaco style” liquid electric bass, picking out and embellishing the melody before being followed by the supremely eloquent Collins on flugel and McCormack at the piano.

This set’s impressionistic episode came with “Letters From Iwo Jima”, a piece of film music written by Eastwood who is a busy and accomplished composer for the cinema. The piece was delivered as an intimate duet by Eastwood on his black electric bass and McCormack at the piano, the composer often being responsible for the melody and with his playing, often in the higher registers of his instrument surpassing even that on “Dolphin Dance” in terms of beauty. I seem recall this item also being a highlight at the Much Wenlock show all those years ago.

Once again the set concluded with an outpouring of energy with the band composition “Une Nuit au Senegal” with its African high life feel, bright punchy horns and crisp, infectious electric bass and drum grooves. Collins and Blevins delighted in a series of fiery trumpet and tenor exchanges, McCormack was thrillingly percussive and exuberant at the piano, the horn men clapping along in encouragement from the side of the stage. Infectiously interlocking grooves were created by electric bass, dampened piano strings and drums culminating in a dynamic drum feature from Draper before Collins and Blevins returned for a final run down of the theme.

In a well constructed show Eastwood had again closed proceedings on an energetic high and was awarded with a standing ovation ,still something of a rarity even at this most enthusiastic of venues. The quintet returned for a good natured, high octane burn up on Horace Silver’s classic blues “Blowin’ The Blues Away” with Eastwood’s super-fast acoustic bass walk fuelling McCormack’s opening solo. However just to prove the unpredictable nature of live music the spike on Eastwood’s bass retracted into the body of the instrument to comic effect pressing the grinning Draper into an impromptu drum feature as Eastwood effected running repairs. The bassist soon picked up where he left off before handing over to Draper for his scheduled solo and later linking up for a series of sparky exchanges with the two horns. Minor mishap aside this was great fun and an enjoyable end to a terrific evening.

It was hard to fault this performance by the Eastwood Band with all five musicians excelling both individually and collectively in a well drilled unit. The pacing of the show was superb and the listener’s enjoyment was further enhanced by the quality of the sound. With an attentive but enthusiastic capacity crowd in attendance this was one of those gigs that became AN EVENT.

Eastwood, McCormack, Collins and Blevins have been making music together for a long time and are obviously very comfortable with each other’s playing and form a well honed team with Eastwood’s leadership subtle but dominant throughout. However I’d like to single Chris Draper out for praise, he was parachuted into this tight knit set up and acquitted himself superbly, never putting a stick wrong and even bailing his leader out towards the end.

On the evidence of tonight’s performance it’s perhaps time that I undertook a re-evaluation of young Mr. Eastwood’s oeuvre. 
 

Remaining UK dates include;


Tue Apr 29th 2014
Eastleigh UK
The Concorde Club
The Concorde Club Stoneham Lane, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO50 9HQ, UK


Wed Apr 30th 2014
Wimborne Minster, UK
THE TIVOLI THEATRE
West Borough, Wimborne Minster Doeset BH21 1LT


Fri May 2nd 2014
Isle Of Wight UK ***
Isle of Wight Jazz Festival
http://artsisle.org/kyleeastwood.html


http://www.kyleeastwood.com       


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