Capping two extraordinary decades as a recording and performing artist, Kyle Eastwood's stylistically eclectic new album In Transit reflects the whirlwind reality of the breakneck schedule that Kyle and his longtime ensemble keep as they perform three quarters of the year in Europe - with a yearly jaunt to Asian countries and occasional swings to the U.S.
The Los Angeles bred, Paris based bassist and composer estimates that about half of the tracks were "road tested," with a few rendered completely fresh in the studio. "That's part of the concept, all the moving around and spending time on the road and working through our favorite material."
Just as on his previous two critically acclaimed collections The View from Here and Time Pieces, Kyle plays with a powerfully swinging yet beautifully soulful and sensual quintet of young English musicians. The longest-term members of Kyles powerhouse quintet are pianist Andrew McCormack (12 years) and trumpeter and flugelhornist Quentin Collins (9 years). Newer to the fold, and adding brilliantly to the shared chemistry, are tenor and soprano saxophonist Brandon Allen (who made his first appearance on Time Pieces) and the latest member, drummer Chris Higginbottom.
After inviting renowned Italian saxophonist Stefano Di Battista to join the ensemble on numerous gigs throughout Europe, Kyle invited him to bring his lush and lyrical sensibilities to the Sextant La Fonderie Studio in Malakoff, France to record on four tracks of the new album. The most prominent of these is the intimate and dreamlike acoustic re-imagining of "Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso," which was penned by Ennio Morricone, one of Kyle's favorite film composers; having previously played with the great Italian composer, Di Battista brings an intimate familiarity to the piece.
"We all have similar tastes in music," he adds, "and after playing together for a while have truly developed a unique musical camaraderie and dialogue that allows us to play seamlessly in sync and intuitively know just when to break for every member to take a solo."
The rhythmically intense, vibrantly re-imagined jazz classics on In Transit -- Count Basie's "Blues in Hoss' Flat," Mingus' "Boogie Stop Shuffle" and Thelonious Monk's "We See" -- create a wonderful dual sense for Kyle of coming full circle paying homage to his influences while bringing those traditions into a forward thinking contemporary context. Original compositions like the freewheeling funk-jazz hybrid "Rockin Ronnies" (an homage to Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club, the bands favorite London hotspot) and the brisk, high octane trip through a frenetic "Rush Hour" highlight the compositional talents of each member individually and collectively. Other key tracks include the McCormack penned "Jarreau," a whimsical romp that pays tribute to the late great Al Jarreau, which borrows some harmony lines and chord changes from the singers "Not Like This," and "Soulful Times," a soaring and soul-jazz piece that opens the collection and introduces the ensemble's sense of easy swing, bright piano harmonies, dynamic horns and the infectious pocket grooves of Kyle and Chris Higginbottom. "I really think everyone played their pants off on this album, and I'm really happy with the way it turned out."