Kyle Eastwood charms the jazz crowd

Concert Duc des Lombards. Paris 2010
Concert Duc des Lombards. Paris 2010

The Spiegeltent, Dutch for ‘Tent of Mirrors’, is an early 20th performance venue. Called so for its mirror-lined walls, there are only about a dozen left in existence and they have hosted some of the world’s most renowned performers, including Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s. At the City of Derry Jazz Festival last weekend it played host to Kyle Eastwood.

Compered by Mark Patterson, the beautifully antique setting provided the perfect atmosphere for an evening of cool jazz, both classic and contemporary. Kicking off things were the winners of the Music City Talent Contest, The Kashmir Krows.

With a roll of the drum, the boys jumped straight into their unique electric jazz fusion. Effortlessly cool, none of the boys older than 17 years old, they had the crowd fixated. Quite unlike anything I’ve seen from a band of their age, their electric rendition of Miles Davis’ ‘So What’ was a definite highlight for me. Calm, collected and flawless, the Krows did Miles perfect justice.

TAfter a short interval, Patterson welcomed Kyle on stage. The resemblance to his famed father is not immediately striking, but clearly recognisable.

Kyle Eastwood has been a prolific figure of the jazz scene since his 1998 debut ‘From There to Here’ and though press were initially preoccupied with his paternal lineage, he has very successfully managed to build an impressive body of work, whilst gaining huge respect in jazz circles. Though it is clear the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree,

Kyle having recorded the score for many of his father’s films including Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby and Letters from Iwo Jima.

Accompanied by his band of long time, pianist Andrew McCormack, saxophonist Graeme Blevins, trumpeter Quentin Collins, and drummer Chris Draper, images of smoky bars and dimly lit boulevards in New Orleans were immediately conjured. Swapping effortlessly between electric and double bass, after a few tunes Kyle remarked, ‘It’s getting steamy in here.’

And he wasn’t wrong. The band played ‘Marrakech’, a tune very clearly inspired by Kyle’s travels in North Africa. The tone was Eastern, and dream-like. McCormack was running his fingers down the strings of the piano, Eastwood and Draper each making minimalistic taps on their respective instruments as the surreality grew. Kyle switched again to electric as trumpeter and saxophonist stepped back on stage and the Easter rhythms climaxed. Again, the only word I could find was surreal.

As the tempo rose for the next few tunes, feet started tapping and heads and shoulders began to sway, I began to think the only thing lacking was, perhaps a dance floor but then they brought it right back down again and it was clear there was no contest to watching in stunned awe.

With wandering bass lines, brought wandering minds and with evocative brass licks brought that feeling of quiet contentedness that only good jazz can bring.

I couldn’t help but think, that the billing of the performance was slightly unfair. Under the name of Kyle Eastwood, played a group of five equally, incredibly talented musicians and performers.

As Kyle and co. left the stage, you could tell that the crowd were tempted, yet respectfully hesitant to shout the usual ‘One more!’ with one enthusiastic fan in the back speaking for the masses.

The band complied, came back for one more, and left to an uproarious standing ovation. At its beginnings, the City of Derry Jazz Festival, like everything, had its cynics although now in its 14th year, and more successful than ever I think it goes to show that people of Derry are ever hungry for new and live music. It’s unfortunate we have to wait another twelve months to see crowds like this again and in my opinion, I’m certain a jazz club, or the likes would definitely not go amiss in the city.