|Kyle Eastwood. Photo credit: © Claude Dinhut|
US-born, Paris-based bassist Kyle Eastwood returns to London for a four-night residency at Ronnie Scott’s, 21-24 September 2016. French writer Sandie Safont caught up with him a month ago at the Avignon Jazz Festival:
LondonJazz News: Let’s rewind a couple of years. Could you tell us about the journey behind ‘Time Pieces’? The album sounds like more than just a tribute to your hard-bop heroes. Do you second that impression?
Kyle Eastwood: Yes, I do. When I started to write for the album, I knew that I wanted to record Dolphin Dance, because it was something we had started to play live with the band. Blowin’ The Blues Away was one of my father’s favourite records, so it’s one of the tunes I remember from when I was very young. So, yeah, I knew I wanted to record those two songs; and then I started writing some new music for the album that had this sort of spirit of that time period – jazz from the ’50s and ’60s – with a mix of some more modern materials.
LJN: Horn sections are central to Horace Silver’s work. Can you tell us about the stellar horn players you have in your band?
KE: I’ve known Quentin Collins for a long time. We’ve played together on and off for eight years or so – the better part of the last five or six. I met Brandon Allen more recently, through Quentin. They play a lot together, and founded the well-established QC/BA quartet.
LJN: And the rest of the line-up – all London-based?
KE: Andrew McCormack (piano) is the one I’ve played with the longest from when I used to live in London – about twelve years ago – and Chris Higginbottom (drums) is a recent addition to the band, but I’ve known him for ten years or so.
LJN: What about the songwriting for this album? Was it a collective process at all?
KE: Some of the pieces, we wrote totally collectively – we did a couple of rehearsals in London before recording the album in Paris. Otherwise, I would come up with ideas or a song, sort of half-written, and we would start playing it around and maybe the horns would change a few things or add a couple of things to it. So, in a way, the tunes became collective pieces.
LJN: That’s apart from one song, written by Andrew McCormack?
KE: That’s right. Andrew played Vista a lot with his trio and he thought it would be nice to try it with the quintet. The two of us get together sometimes to write some new music that we then bring to the band. Ideally, the best thing to do is to write new music ahead of time, and then play it live as you’re on the road for a while. It makes the recording process much easier. And soundchecks are a great time to rehearse new ideas!
LJN: Judging by some of the song titles on ‘Time Pieces’, one might suspect a little bit of caipirinha and prosecco being consumed in the writing process…
KE: [laughs] Caipirinha was an idea Andrew and I came up with. since the song has a kind of Brazilian feel to it; and Prosecco Smile was a title that my wife and I came up with while in Rome, two years before I even wrote the tune. I then brought a few ideas to the band with this title in mind, and then I think Quentin added a few things to the horn parts – and yes, there was some prosecco being consumed [laughs].
LJN: Was bass your first instrument? Could you name some of your bass heroes for us?
KE: Piano was my first instrument, and then I played a bit of guitar when I was twelve. I was thirteen or fourteen when I first started playing electric bass – just for fun. I was listening to a lot of Motown records at the time, so I guess James Jamerson was certainly one I listened to a lot. I picked up the double bass a few years later, when I was seventeen or eighteen years old, and I used to listen to a lot of Paul Chambers, Ray Brown, Stanley Clarke, Ron Carter and Oscar Pettiford – and then the later guys like Dave Holland. Then, of course, Jaco Pastorius, Anthony Jackson, Marcus Miller…
LJN: Any new talents we should watch out for in the bass world?
KE: Linda Oh, definitely. She plays with Dave Douglas and Pat Metheny’s new band. She sounds great.
LJN: You’ve been on the road most of 2015-16. How soon can we hope for a new album?
KE: We’re playing on and off until the end of November and we should probably go and record again in February/March 2017. We already have a couple of arrangements of some old things – including some Charles Mingus – and we’re working on some new compositions.
LJN: Will it be with the same line-up?
KE: Yes, absolutely. I might have a couple of guests, as I have been doing some stuff with saxophonist Stefano di Battista quite a bit lately, So the quintet might expand to a sextet for a few songs.
LJN: You’re playing four nights in a row at Ronnie’s next September. How do you feel about it?
KE: I’m delighted to be back. It has a really great vibe, a nice sounding room and there’s a lot of history there, which makes it one of my favourite clubs to play.