Bassist Kyle Eastwood returns with a soul-jazz mood influenced album that more generally pays homage to the music of both Horace Silver and Art Blakey, and more specifically covers Monk and Mingus, while as a whole showcasing the compositional talents of the leader with original pieces in the remainder. Assisting Eastwood in this praiseworthy endeavour is a stellar cast that includes some of the most talented of British jazz musicians, notably pianist Andrew McCormack and trumpter/flautist Quentin Collins, while Italian reedist Stefano di Battista guests elsewhere.
Typical of the overall sound is the relaxed mid-tempo opener and soulful groove of ‘Soulful times’ that features another reed player in US tenorist Brandon Allen. Indeed, it is the collective horns of the Jazz Messengers that is evoked on, ‘Rush hour’, with a fine trumpet sol from Collins and a meaty tenor solo from Allen. A gentle brass ensemble flavoured piece is devoted by McCormick to the recent passing of a jazz vocalese great in Al Jarreau and the appropriately and simply titled ‘Jarreau’ is in fact a vehicle for the pianist to take a more expansive solo which he does with no little dexterity. Di Battista is deployed here on a moving and evocative reading of the main theme to the Cinema Paradiso soundtrack and this is one of the rare occasions on which the leader is afforded the space to undertake an extended bass solo. This honour is replicated on a faithful interpretation of the Mingus opus, ‘Boogie Stop Shuffle’, with Eastwood expertly weaving his solo introduction into the main chorus motif with fine brass ensemble work. It is of course the centenary of the birth of one of jazz music’s most innovative composers and practitioners, Thelonius Monk, and a mini homage comes in the form of, ‘We See’, which is performed solely by the rhythm section and devoid of any brass.
The excellent sound quality of the recorded, from 2016 and laid down in Malakoff, Brittany, captures the drums beautifully and there is a wonderful relaxed feel and empathy between the musicians that is communicated in the warmness of the sound.