November 6, 2009

Kyle Eastwood -- Metropolitain

Here’s a slice of hot and cool fusion jazz you’ve gotta thoroughly enjoy, even if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool smooth jazzer. Kyle Eastwood, actor Clint Eastwood’s bass-wielding son, should have you fully engaged and acknowledging the quality, poise, and eloquence of his compositions here on Metropolitain by record’s end. Maybe it was the melodies; maybe it was the sheer power. Whatever it was, this album caught and held me fast. Clearly an artist with magnificent and laudable skills on bass, complete with stylish chords and harmonics, Eastwood’s writing is as superb. Ordinarily, I restrict my reviews to the tastes of smooth jazzers, but this one drove me to such a state of sheer appreciation that I felt I would be totally remiss—not to mention grossly unfair-- to ignore the tightness, the clarity, and the boldness of the splendid piece of fusion going on here.

This latest effort was recorded in Paris and co-produced by Miles Davis’ son, Erin, as well as Eastwood’s writing partner, Michael Stevens. There, Eastwood formed collaborations with some of the artists he admires most on the current scene, including drummer Manu Katché, trumpeter Till Bronner, French vocalist Camille, and Pianist Eric Legnini. This team put together some of the most savory sounds a purist--or a fusionist--could seek.

With offerings like the steamy and melodic “Bold Changes,” brought forward with some superior Bronner trumpet work and a crisp sax contribution by Graeme Blevins, as well the smokin’ tune, “Hot Box” (you’ve gotta check out Andrew McCormack on electric piano here, as well as awesome runs by Eastwood) that hints at some of the stuff Herbie Hancock might conjure up (think “Actual Proof” from Thrust), Eastwood sets out to add even more definition to both straight-ahead and fusion jazz with a serious spirit. Knocking it out of the park with the funky “Rue Perdue” and capping it all off with the finale, “Live for Life,” which is quite an atypical piece of funk for this particular CD (complete with some sassy rap, no less!), coupled with the fiery vocals of Nigerian-born Toyin (it’s the album’s only vocal-led track), Eastwood’s got the stuff here to make even the strictest of smooth jazzers sit up and take notice. It is, after all, what should cause all jazzers to celebrate the vastness of the world of jazz and to appreciate all of its diversity and radiance. Well done, indeed.

Posted by Ronald Jackson at November 6, 2009 6:32 PM