Growing up in Carmel, CA, Kyle Eastwood has fond memories of long bus rides to school listening to the pop hits of the 70s, which sparked an early passion for rock and roll. When he was at home, though, it was all about jazz blues and R&B, as his parents, actor/director Clint Eastwood and Maggie Johnson, filled their home with Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz, Ray Charles and the Big Band music of Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton. The first concert he remembers attending (at age nine) was the Monterey Jazz Festival, where he heard the Count Basie Big Band led by Basie himself. Kyle’s initial passion for jazz was kindled not only by attending concerts by Getz, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, but also having the opportunity to meet these legends.
As the son of a film icon whose love of jazz is as legendary as his work onscreen and behind the scenes, Kyle developed a lifelong passion for both art forms, which in turn has fueled his rise as a world renowned bassist, prolific and eclectic recording artist, international touring bandleader/performer and ASCAP Award winning, Golden Globe nominated film composer in his own right.
Kyle’s dual love for cinema and jazz reached a fascinating pinnacle with the release of his 2019 album Cinematic, which featured the bassist and his longtime ensemble (trumpeter Quentin Collins, saxophonist Brandon Allen, pianist Andrew McCormack and drummer Chris Higginbottom) creating adventurous, richly textured jazz explorations of scores of some of his favorite films, some as he says, “which are instantly recognizable, and others less obvious.”
Among others, the collection pays homage to Lalo Schifrin (“Bullitt”), Bernard Herrmann (“Taxi Driver”), John Williams (“The Eiger Sanction”), Michel Legrand (“Les Moulins de mon coeur”), Henry Mancini (“Pink Panther Theme”), Ennio Morricone (“Per le antiche scale,” “Charade”) and even the James Bond oeuvre via the Oscar winning Adele song “Skyfall.” Also included are fresh impressions of music from several Clint Eastwood films – including 1993 Best Picture Oscar winner “Unforgiven” and “Gran Torino,” whose theme was composed by Kyle, Clint, Kyle’s longtime collaborator Michael Stevens and singer Jamie Cullum.
Building on the creative, commercial and critical success of Cinematic, Kyle’s upcoming project (and tenth solo release) Symphonic will be an epic, fully orchestrated set of themes from some of the favorite scores from his father’s films – ranging from Ennio Morricone’s themes from Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns “A Fistful of Dollars” and “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” to Lalo Schifrin’s work on “Dirty Harry” and “Magnum Force.” Also represented will be Lennie Niehaus’ music from “Unforgiven” and “The Bridges of Madison County,” the Clint-composed themes from “Flags of Our Fathers” and “The Changeling,” “Gran Torino” and a piece composed by Kyle and Michael Stevens for “Letters from Iwo Jima.”
In October 2022, Kyle will be debuting the music from Symphonic with two concerts in France featuring his band and different local 40-50 piece symphonies, then Recording a concert in a studio in Prague (again with a Prague-based orchestra) for the album that is scheduled for release in April 2023. A live album release concert is set in Paris (one of Kyle’s longtime home bases) at the Grand Rex Rex. “The goal was to adapt these great pieces of score with jazzed up arrangements that are fun and challenging for my band and the orchestra to play,” says Kyle. “I grew up seeing these films or watching them being made, and I’m excited about finally creating a recording and performing concerts that honor my dad’s wonderful legacy as an actor, filmmaker, composer and jazz aficionado.”
The Symphonic project marks an incredible 25 years since Kyle released his debut album From There To Here on Sony Music. Throughout the first decade of his recording career, the bassist flirted with a variety of unique stylistic approaches, including sophisticated electro-cool jazz (Paris Blue, 2004), smooth and playfully grooving jazz with hints of the 70s’ (Now, 2006) and an artsy, chic, urban, culturally eclectic vibe (Metropolian, 2009). Performed with a virtual who’s who of London based jazz performers, Now featured songs penned by Ben Cullum and collaborations with BBC Jazz Award winning pianist Andrew McCormack, who has now played in Eastwood’s group for 17 years.
The release of 2011’s Songs From the Chateau marked a decidedly fresh new era in the bassist’s musical evolution, committed to the kind of ensemble spirit Kyle speaks so fondly of. His other works in the 2010s – The View From Here, Time Pieces and In Transit – found Kyle playing with the powerfully swinging yet beautifully soulful and sensual quintet of young English musicians who have been the foundation of Kyle’s sound for many years.
In addition to releasing albums and performing thousands of international concerts, Kyle in the early 2000s launched his impressive and prolific side career as a film composer, collaborating with Michael Stevens on pieces for Clint’s Oscar winning film “Mystic River.” Kyle and Stevens also co-composed elements of the score for Best Picture winner “Million Dollar Baby,” “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Gran Torino,” “Invictus” and his sister Alison’s 2007 film “Rails & Ties.” Kyle also did arrangements for “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Changeling,” and composed original pieces for Clint’s film “J. Edgar, ” which also featured him onscreen as a member of the Stork Club Band.
Kyle Eastwood embraced Marcel Proust’s phrase,
While Kyle’s childhood had jazz as its soundtrack, he credits his father with introducing him to the joys of the bass line. His first memory of playing music was when Clint taught him how to play the left hand bass line of “Boogie Woogie,” while he played the right hand solo over the top. When he was around six or seven, Clint started showing him how to play piano and Kyle soon began taking lessons. Then he learned “a little bit of guitar” for his first credited film role as Whit Wagoneer in the 1982 film “Honkytonk Man.” It wasn’t until, high school, however, that Kyle became passionate about the bass and he began playing in bands. Because of Kyle’s expansive background in jazz and ultimate success as an artist in the genre, it’s easy to overlook another formative era of his life: his many years living in Los Angeles in the 80s and 90s, playing electric and upright bass in rock bands behind various singers at hotspots like The Whisky, The Roxy and The Troubadour. Even as he studied jazz bass and music theory with fusion great Bunny Brunell in the mid to late 80s, Kyle – who also grew up loving Led Zeppelin and the funky Motown basslines of James Jamerson – was rocking and grooving at night. Kyle began playing in a jazz fusion band at the famed Baked Potato in the early 90s. After leading his first jazz quartet for several years, he gave a tape of him playing a few standards and originals to Sony Senior VP Steve Berkowitz, who offered him the deal to record From There To Here. While mastering piano, guitar, electric and ultimately the acoustic bass, Kyle’s ever-evolving jazz sensibilities gravitated towards classic groups of the 50’s and 60’s that captured the spirit of what he calls “lyrical hard bop, full of groove and sophisticated harmonies. “I left L.A. and moved to New York for a few years, meeting, playing with and being challenged, to say the least, by all the great jazz musicians on the scene,” says Kyle. “The experience I gained became an invaluable part of my development as a jazz musician, and gave me the confidence to move my family to France and start playing regularly there and in London. The best part of my career has been being able to do what I love to do, make my life what I love and having the opportunity to play with my incredible band and top musicians from all over the world. I’m grateful to both of my parents for their interesting tastes in music that exposed me to so many other genres than most of the kids I grew up with at that time. From classical to Marvin Gaye to Miles Davis, I truly love it all.” Written by Jonathan Widran