Last Saturday was the last night of Kyle Eastwood’s residency at Ronnie Scotts, part of the tour promoting his new album, Songs From The Chateau. Listening to the album at home before the gig my expectations were high. This latest oeuvre from Eastwood is a solid set of new and old material and proves his compositional skills by including a mixture of cool, laid-back tracks, energetic calypso and funk, all the while maintaining cohesion.
My high expectations were met and exceeded as the album was far better experienced live. Eastwood was joined by Andrew McCormack (piano and keyboards), Graeme Flowers (trumpet and flugelhorn), Graeme Blevins (tenor and soprano saxophone) and Martyn Kaine (drums) aka ‘the hardest working musician in Ronnies’ that night, since he played the support and main act sets.
From the moment he entered the stage, Eastwood exuded elegance, introducing the numbers and chatting easily with the audience, telling of the origins of the compositions. There was no arrogance or element of competition from any of the men on stage- just great jazz.
Eastwood displayed technical prowess on double, electric and six string basses. He remained the star throughout, while allowing the other band members to showcase their equally impressive talents. Andrew McCormack was at his absolute best relishing the juicy harmonies and navgating with confidence and ease the unforeseen cadences and modulations of ‘Soul Captain’. ‘Tonic’ featured a mature and thoughtful solo from Graeme Blevins.
A highlight of the evening was ‘Café Calypso’, a joint band composition. Martyn Kaine proved his stamina and energy with his electrifying performance on this number. Blevins also played a storming rhythmic solo contrasting with his more melodic solo of earlier in the night. Another highlight of the evening was ‘Cosmo’, a funk number inspired by Herbie Hancock and Starsky and Hutch! McCormack and Kaine laid down the funky groove before Blevins and Flowers began their onslaught of awesome solos.
Having seen Eastwood perform on previous occasions, I knew (and hoped) to expect that he would play the soundtrack from Letters from Iwo Jima. Saturday night’s rendition however, was like nothing I’ve heard before. It was heartbreakingly beautiful and brought the whole of Ronnies to complete, concentrated silence. Eastwood made his electric bass sound effortlessly melodic and beautiful and McCormack’s playing was tender and gorgeous, ending the piece to loud applause and exclamations of astonishment and awe.
We were treated to two encores. The first, ‘Andalucia’ from the new album featuring a superb extended solo from Eastwood and the second, ‘Big Noise’, the uptempo 1940s crowd pleaser. The band deservedly received a standing ovation before the early crowd kicked out and the late set began…and poor Martyn Kaine had to do it all over again!