REVIEW: Kyle Eastwood – Metropolitain

Let’s get the obvious question out of the way first. Yes, Kyle Eastwood is Clint’s son. And yes, he’s the same kid who showed up with his Dad in 1982’s Honkytonk Man, one of several of the elder Eastwood’s movies that have connections with music. Clint’s love of all things musical is pretty well documented, and it appears that music — rather than film work — has been the primary muse followed by son Kyle. (Clint’s daughter Alison went the other way.)

An accomplished jazz composer and bassist who’s equally at home with electric or acoustic, Kyle Eastwood has built a solid career in more than a decade of professional music. He has contributed to a number of soundtracks, has led various groups, and has generated several albums — two appearing on the charts — since his debut keeffort, 1998’s There To Here. His newest album, Metropolitain, is now out on the Rendezvous (Mack Avenue) label.

The spelling in the title might furnish a hint to the fact that the album was recorded in Paris, where Eastwood enlisted a variety of musicians to help bring to life what is mostly a collection of his own compositions. The ten tracks utilize a variety of mix and match groups that vary in size from a trio to an 11-piece combo.  Among the notables making appearances are trumpeter Till Brönner, drummer Manu Katche, and keyboardist Eric Legnini. A couple of the tracks also feature vocals, although in one case it’s French singer Camille performing mostly wordless background.

Leader Eastwood is front and center of some of the pieces, including the very nice “Le Balai,” which starts softly but steadily builds into a driving tempo, and “Samba de Paris,” which was probably my favorite here. Eastwood’s solid bass plays off Legnini’s piano, and Brönner’s trumpet completes the sound on this Latin-flavored tune. And Eastwood is almost the whole show on the deceptively simple “Song For You,” but he’s also is smart enough — and secure enough — to step back into mostly accompaniment on many of the other tracks, providing room for the other musicians to work. Some of the best of those pieces include “Bel Air,” a showcase for Legnini’s keyboard, and “Bold Changes,” which gives listeners a chance to enjoy the tenor sax of Graeme Blevins.

Just in case you were wondering, the track that utilizes an 11-piece group is the last one on the album, and it’s something a little different. For one, it features eight musicians and three vocalists, with the lead carried by guest singer Toyin, and although it’s an enjoyable listen, it does have a distinctly different sound.

kecdIf that all sounds a little confusing, don’t let it deter you from taking a closer look at this album. Eastwood makes all this work pretty well, and has put together an intriguing collection of modern jazz that borrows a little from contemporary, funk, and even Latin jazz.

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