Like a Nocturne in black and gold (à la Whistler)
Sitting at the bar area at Ronnies can mean different things, amongst them, that one can listen in to the person sitting next to one commenting on the current show (and comments are good and abundant on the night Eastwood and co play), but also that this particular area gives the spectator the best view of the night and this is so welcome once Kyle Eastwood steps on stage with his phenomenal band. The line-up is a treat in itself: Kyle Eastwood (double bass and bass guitar), Andrew McCormack (piano), Quentin Collins (trumpet), Brandon Allen (sax), Chris Higginbottom (drums).
The show starts with “Prosecco Smile” taken from the newly launched album “Time Pieces” on the JazzVillage label, there is an immediate connection with the music, it is refreshing, innovative, with a slight hint of 70’s funk produced slickly by the up-tempo notes of Eastwood, Collins and the scarily talented Allen. An excellent track to open the show.
Kyle Eastwood’s fingers move up and down his bass at the speed of light, he is in his zone, playing a few nights at Ronnies means a lot to the talented musician. He has come a long way from the 1998 “From There to Here” album. Writing music is a very subjective experience and Kyle Eastwood has been through some changes, chameleon-style, all leading to some incredible pieces.
So when the second track for the evening comes on, “Bullet Train” taken from “Time Pieces” as well, it is astounding to realize how this artist has developed.
This is a track that gives so much space to the great trumpet playing of Quentin Collins and that of Brandon Allen on sax and for a while the two are so in unison that one almost forgets these are two different instruments playing! But here comes Andrew McCormack on piano, stylish and smooth, keeping the mood going till the trumpet and the sax join him again.
Another example of how the band has reached such fusion and yet can give space to solos that are just outstanding. A welcome breath of fresh air.
Eastwood plays his double bass almost crouched on it as if hugging the instrument and this is both moving and mesmerizing to watch.
Next up is the enticing “Marrakesh” from the 2004 Paris Blue album. An atmospheric, dark tune, which immediately transports one in a different space and time. Eastwood plays the bass with his bow this time creating very particular sounding notes just right for the track, whilst McCormack plucks at the strings inside his piano to further emphasize the dark tones of the piece.
The music brings to mind a picture, a Nocturne picture as painted by the great innovator James Whistler. Where time and space mix, where space has no delineation, but where imperceptible shapes appear on the canvas to leave the rest to the viewer’s mind and imagination. Whistler was a genius at depicting such images, he believed in the fusion of art and music, these are never really that far apart.
Meanwhile, Eastwood switches to his bass guitar which he plays close to his chest. This track is a real treat, played impeccably and softly. A gem.
“Peace of Silver” concludes the first set. A homage to the great Horace who passed away whilst “Time Pieces” was being recorded.
During the break Eastwood joins a couple of friends at the bar area and soon after he is asked to sign copies of his new album by members of the audience. The album is being sold in both formats, CD and vinyl.
“Caipirinha” marks the start of the second set. A track taken from the new album which exudes sounds full of happy notes. It is a piece where the various exchanges amongst the musicians are a joy to behold: McCormack on piano, Allen on sax, like a duel, but on good terms! One could say steam is coming off their instruments, an uplifting treat to witness.
Ronnies is sold out again, signaling yet another successful night full of talent and surprises. With a band like Kyle Eastwood’s there is a lot of expectation and the band does not disappoint, on the contrary, it excels at offering a show of absolute talent.
A perfect Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance” rendition follows whilst the crowd is attentive and appreciative, applauding at each possible solo. Totally well deserved.
“Letters from Iwo Jima”, the third track to be played (from the 2006 film directed and co-produced by Kyle’s father, the iconic Clint) is, in my opinion, something magical, highlighting once more Eastwood’s talent as a composer. Although he has composed for other films, “Gran Torino”, “Invictus” and Mulberry Child to name a few, on Letters from Iwo Jima, the tones are so soft yet even, perfectly balanced. It is hard not to feel the pain of those notes which directly transport us back to the film. A story of war as seen from the perspective of the losing side (without giving too much away for those who haven’t seen the film yet…).
From “The View from Here”, Eastwood and band offer us the track called “Une nuit au Senegal”, which catapults us into some African funky beats. We have been moved by “Letters”, but it’s now time to renew the air. This band plays, breathes, moves together and is not afraid to show it!
The lacerating sounds between the trumpet and the sax are stuff to get the hair up on one’s skin.
The crowd is accompanying the band with clapping along and is soon time for the band to say good-night, but the crowd wants more and welcomes Eastwood et al for an encore onto stage for another beautiful rendition, this time it is “Blowin’ the blues Away” by the great Horace Silver. The magic of Silver can always uplift and the Kyle Eastwood Band has certainly done this on the night.
Progressing on from the albums like “Paris Blue” to “The View from Here”, “Time Pieces” is an important album for Eastwood, denoting a firm imprint in the world of jazz, highlighting influences from Art Blakey, Horace Silver and also Miles Davis, it creates a new period for the artist. One where his bravura and talent are skillfully portrayed: a sign of complete individuality.
In my opinion, the Kyle Eastwood Band has been one of the best shows at Ronnies so far this year!
Impressive and revitalizing.