Kyle Eastwood: Symphonic

Bassist son of the man with no name plays thoughtful arrangements of music from his father's films with his British quintet and the Czech NSO


Kyle Eastwood’s father, Clint, is well known for using music in his films to create atmosphere and tension, often with an emphasis on jazz. Here, bassist Kyle reworks some of those film scores using his working quintet and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. The orchestration could have overwhelmed the idea, but the thoughtful arrangements by Gast Waltzing and the strength and cohesion of the quintet prevent that from happening.

Eastwood leads on several and on Gran Torino he interweaves sensitively with Brandon Allen’s soprano. Unforgiven (Claudia’s Theme) mirrors the original acoustic guitar rendition, but with more solidity, whilst Chris Higginbottom contributes deft cymbal work behind the impressively dominant bass on Changeling.

The funk of Magnum Force and Dirty Harry reflects the urban backdrop to Schifrin’s soundtracks, Allen using his tenor to good effect. As expected, Allen and trumpeter Quentin Collins are given space for expression, whether on the modal approach of Letters From Iwo Jima or Collins’ fine playing on Eiger Sanction, with its extended piano solo from Andrew McCormack. The contrast of Allen’s full and slightly abrasive tenor with Collins’ warmth appears on The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, which retains the distinct chimes and recurring motifs of Morricone’s original.

The quintet’s versatility is shown on the slower Flags Of Our Fathers, Collins’ open horn and Allen’s soprano almost in trad-band mode! Eastwood again leads on this, supported by Higginbottom’s direct drumming and the soulful, bluesy piano of McCormack. Lennie Niehaus’s theme from The Bridges Of Madison County (Doe Eyes) is a highlight, once again introduced by Eastwood, who remains the central pivot around which the music revolves.

The huge orchestral opening Overture is counterbalanced by A Fistful Of Dollars – a lively finale venturing into Miles/Coltrane territory – Collins expansive then squeezing notes out, Allen’s soprano soaring, driven hard by Higginbottom. This album provides an interesting comparison with Eastwood’s earlier Cinematic release, reviewed 2 February 2020.

Eastwood Overture; Magnum Force; Gran Torino; Bridges Of Madison County (Doe Eyes Theme); Eiger Sanction; The Good, The Bad & The Ugly; Unforgiven (Claudia’s Theme); Letters From Iwo Jima; Dirty Harry; Changeling; Flags Of Our Fathers; A Fistful Of Dollars (75.03)
Eastwood (b); Quentin Collins (t); Brandon Allen (ts, ss); Andrew McCormack (p); Chris Higginbottom (d); Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Prague 2022.
Discograph DISCO2204CD