Kyle Eastwood plays cool modern jazz on “Soulful Times”

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Son of actor-director Clint Eastwood, Kyle Eastwood has not only learned to play bass, but he has mastered the instrument’s application in different genres. His latest album “In Transit” shows the bassist displaying verve and a sense of jazz cool, especially on the single “Soulful Times.”

About Kyle Eastwood

His famous father aside, the younger Eastwood is following his own path of artistry. Having released his first album in 1998, Eastwood’s next work was 2005’s “Paris Blue,” and 2006’s “Now.” From there, every couple years, Eastwood had a new album coming out. “In Transit” was released in 2017.

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Eastwood’s career hasn’t always revolved around jazz. He played the title character’s unnamed son in “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and eventually went to college to study film. According to an interview with theguardian.com, Eastwood dropped out of college to work on music. The newspaper’s site further reported that it was chance attendance at the Monterey Jazz Festival when Eastwood was young (8 years old) with his father that opened his mind to jazz.

“Soulful Times” by Kyle Eastwood

Every new (or new to the listener) performer presents possibilities and potential for apprehension. There is, too, a negative idea that follows the offspring of famous people that implies that they can’t be talented. Eastwood proves that to be false. He has put together an ensemble of talented players and he weaves his bass lines into the soundscape in a way that both surprises and makes sense.

His approach here isn’t totally laidback, but the bass does not dominate the soundscape. The instrumentation is full. It moves, and like its title suggests, it is soulful. There is a smoothness to the song that invites audiences to listen closely. However, it is not so smooth that it encourages sleepiness. “Soulful Times” strikes the right balance of energetic and cool that makes the song live up to its title.

If jazz songs were conversations, the brass and drums keep up the bulk of the dialogue. The bass and piano offer soothing nods to remind them that they are on the right track. Eastwood’s upright bass work is nimble and dare I say it, soulful. The song possesses a movement that makes it suitable for dancing for those so inclined, but it is also an effective track that listeners could use to relax to or use to learn about jazz. The song is flexible and fun, qualities that become more obvious as “Soulful Times” works toward its conclusion.

If “Soulful Times” is the listener’s first time hearing Eastwood, then he or she will more likely want to backtrack and find all of his work to hear the development of this artist who has come to jazz authentically and whose talent exists outside of family ties.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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