Jazz Village JV570034
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ***1/2
Sound Quality: ***
Overall Enjoyment: ***

If you know much about Clint Eastwood, you know that his favorite music is jazz. It is quite logical, then, to know that his eldest son, Kyle, was thoroughly exposed to jazz as he was growing up. The influences took flight and Kyle became a jazz bassist, bandleader, and composer. You will find his music scattered throughout some of his father’s films, most notably Gran Torino and Letters from Iwo Jima. Both of those stints garnered him award nominations.

Time Pieces

The younger Eastwood describes his new album as a solidification of his style as a composer and his return “to my ‘jazz’ roots and influences.” The latter are focused on jazz of the late ’50s and ’60s, notably Horace Silver and Herbie Hancock. Silver is represented by “Blowin’ the Blues Away,” Hancock by “Dolphin Dance.” The former receives a joyful, heady performance with virtuoso riffs from all players in the quintet (Eastwood, bass; Brandon Allen, saxophone; Quentin Collins, trumpet; Andrew McCormack, piano; and Ernesto Simpson, drums). Its enthusiastic, hard-driving precision is hard to resist; it is my favorite cut on the album.

“Dolphin Dance” opens with a drum roll and some playful bass work from Eastwood that leads into a sensuous, languid solo for Collins. The extraordinary trumpet player is again featured in “Peace of Silver,” which has a gospel feeling to it. “Letters from Iwo Jima” presents some of the music from the film in a low-key and somewhat somber manner, but the pace picks up again with “Bullet Train,” the last cut on the CD.

Kyle Eastwood

Listening to parts of this album again, I had the feeling that it should be more impressive than it is, and finally had to blame the recorded sound as the reason why it is not. There is a short promo video for the album that shows the players all with headphones on and isolated from one another, so I must conclude that it is the usual pop/jazz album that has separate tracks for each player. The result here, when mixed back, is that the sound has clarity but not nearly enough presence or punch. I would like to hear this group recorded live; I think it would make a much better impression. As it is, the music often tries to soar but the sound pulls it down.

That said, I like the album overall and feel it is worth a listen, but have to advise that you find a seller who provides sample tracks. Then you can decide whether you want to go for it or not.

. . . Rad Bennett