Jazz musician Kyle Eastwood scores films for his father, Clint Eastwood. He plays Seattle's Jazz Alley on Sept. 14 and 15.
For most of the year, bass player Kyle Eastwood lives in Paris, a city that suits his musical inclinations and has helped shape them. He plays regularly around the continent, where audiences are more apt to recognize his music than audiences at home in the U.S., where he performs less frequently.
So despite a career that often requires his presence in Los Angeles, where he has written several film scores for his father, movie star and director Clint Eastwood, he calls Paris home. His teenage daughter Graylen, a budding musician herself, attends school there.
“I have a lot of musicians here to play with,” Eastwood said last week by phone from Paris, where he has lived for the past five years. “They play jazz, but they are also into a lot of different kinds of music, R&B, funk, a lot of things. I think musicians here are pretty open minded.”
Fresh from recording his fourth album for the European label Candid Records, Eastwood, who is 42, will perform at Jazz Alley for two nights starting Tuesday with his quintet, the Kyle Eastwood Band (drummer Joe Strasser, pianist Rick Germanson, Jim Rotondi on trumpet and Jason Rigby on sax), New-York based musicians with whom he has toured over the years.
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Like Parisian musicians, Eastwood says, French music fans have eclectic tastes. “People here in general are a little more open to what they listen to,” Eastwood said of European audiences. “It’s not so segregated. Even on the radio over here, you’ll hear a jazz tune, then you’ll hear some hip-hop and modern stuff.”
His music can be described the same way, grounded in the history and traditions of the jazz he heard all his life growing up in Carmel, Calif., but also reflective of his curiosities and life experiences. His 2005 album “Paris Blue” has tracks with funk and techno rhythms and harmonies that bring to mind music of North Africa and the Middle East.
His follow-up record, “Now” (2006), further displayed his talent for crossing genres. Part club music, funk, pop and contemporary jazz, the album featured vocals and plenty of electronic instrumentation. His 2009 album “Metropolitain,” another musical ode to Paris, attempted to evoke the years he spent there with jazz interpretations of pop, samba, heavy funk and moody ballads. Eastwood said his group will likely play various selections from those albums during his two nightly sets at Jazz Alley, where he last played with the jazz fusion pianist Jeff Lorber.
If his music has one unifying tag, it is atmosphere. His songs are heavy with it, whether upbeat or sullen, a logical consequence given his background in cinema. As a child, he appeared in a few of his father’s films and later attended college at USC intending to study film before deciding to become a musician.
Clint Eastwood is a lifelong fan of jazz and not a bad jazz pianist himself (Clint Eastwood whistled on one song from “Paris Blue”). Kyle went to the Monterey Jazz Festival every year with his father (who attended the very first festival in 1958) and listened to music constantly at home. Because his father was a celebrity, young Kyle got to meet many of the great musicians of the day and got into jazz clubs he might not have gotten into otherwise.
Having a famous father, he said, “can sort of give people a preconceived idea of who you are and what you’re doing. It has its advantages and disadvantages. I try not to worry about it too much.”
While other jazz musicians have written for film — trumpeter Terence Blanchard has scored most of director Spike Lee’s movies — few have been as prolific as Eastwood, who has the obvious advantage of having a hugely successful father in Hollywood.
“It’s fun, editing, sitting in front of the computer, finding what fits,” Kyle Eastwood said. “You have to bob and weave between dialogue, and it makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do.”
The film work pays a lot of the bills and affords him the time to tour. Eastwood has written music for the films “Mystic River,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Gran Torino,” “Flags of Our Fathers,” “Letters from Iwo Jima” and most recently, “Invictus.”
“We have a good working relationship,” he said of his father. “I get to spend time with him, and I get the opportunity to read the script of the movie before he begins making it.”
Hugo Kugiya: email@example.com