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12/20/11

Kyle Eastwood
Songs From the Chateau
Candid Records

Listeners unexcited by the glossy, beat-heavy, smoothness of 2005’s Paris Blue and its two successors will be pleasantly surprised by the direction Kyle Eastwood takes on Songs From the Chateau, his fifth album as a leader. The virtuoso bass doubler and his regular bandmates holed up on a 15th-century estate in the French countryside and emerged with a mostly acoustic recording that plugs into soulful grooves and moves from hard bop to modal territory to Caribbean rhythms. Throughout, Eastwood demonstrates monster bass chops.

The disc’s nine compositions, and their titles, point to Eastwood’s global musical and geographical influences, from the Art Blakey flavorings of opener “Marciac,” which gives rise to bracing solos by trumpeter Graeme Flowers and tenor saxophonist Graeme Blevins, to soul-jazz closer “Down at Ronnie’s,” which has the horn players sparring before turning things over to the leader for another impressive round on his five-string bass guitar. Hints of warmer climes, and Sonny Rollins tunes, emerge from “Café Calypso,” and “Andalucia” comes with Latin-tinged rhythms, a mournful melody and, courtesy of the leader’s upright bass, a droning figure and rubbery solo.

“Moon Over Couronneau,” named for the band’s recording digs, is a moody ballad, with Flowers’ flugelhorn, Blevins’ tenor and Andrew McCormack’s piano riding a pulsing groove supplied by Eastwood and drummer Martyn Kaine. And the moody “Aperitif,” fronted with warm declarations by muted trumpet and burnished tenor, offers the leader another fruitful turn on upright—the sonics are woody and his technique is impeccable. Songs From the Chateau constitutes an altogether welcomed fresh start for a musician who no longer needs to be introduced as the son of the film star.

Originally published in December 2011
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