Kyle Eastwood – In Transit

Kyle Eastwood – In Transit (Jazz Village)

Kyle Eastwood’s nearly 20-year recording career took a powerful turn on 2011’s Songs From the Chateau. With that recording, the multi-talented bassist shifted away from the eclectic stylistic jaunts that defined his earlier discography. Leading a band of young British jazz stalwarts — currently anchored by pianist Andrew McCormack and trumpeter/flugelhornist Quentin Collins — Eastwood found his groove by creating tight and explosive ensemble works reminiscent of his deepest influences, Art Blakey, Horace Silver and Miles Davis among them.

The title of his latest album, In Transit, references the breakneck schedule he maintains with his intensely swinging quintet as they tour three-quarters of the year in Europe, with occasional skips to Asia and the United States. More significantly, it provides a clue as to why this freewheeling 10-track set seems so fresh and spontaneous — at least half the tracks were written and/or cultivated on the road.

Eastwood offers a deeper glimpse into the influences his famous father, Clint, exposed him to when he was a kid. Written for the Basie band, Frank Foster’s “Blues in Hoss’s Flat” is a glittering, horn-intensive romp with a traditional jazz and blues feel, punctuated by the leader’s pizzicato solo and Brandon Allen’s punchy sax interlude. Eastwood’s lengthy, hypnotic acoustic solo introduces the album closer, Charles Mingus’ “Boogie Stop Shuffle,” which then develops into a percussive, funk-driven dual-horn jam.

This relentless attack also fuels “Rockin’ Ronnie’s,” a barn-burning original funk-jazz tribute to the band’s favorite London venue, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. In contrast, the group offers a sweet, low-key re-imagining of Ennio Morricone’s “Love Theme From Cinema Paradiso,” which features Italian saxophonist Stefano Di Battista. Further tempering the fire, “Jarreau” offers a whimsical tribute to a contemporary master that cleverly incorporates some harmony lines and chord changes from the late singer’s “Not Like This.” As the album title implies, Eastwood and friends are always heading somewhere exciting, both literally and creatively.

— Jonathan Widran

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