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Interview: Kyle Eastwood

PUBLISHED: 15:00 07 May 2011 | UPDATED: 15:00 07 May 2011

Kyle Eastwood

Kyle Eastwood

Archant

His father Clint is one of the world's best-known movie stars. And growing up listening to his dad's record collection obviously did Kyle Eastwood no harm as he's gone on to carve a respected niche for himself as a jazz performer. RACHEL BANHAM spoke to him.

His is one of the most recognised names in Hollywood. And as the eldest son of actor and director Clint Eastwood, jazz inevitably formed the soundtrack to Kyle Eastwood’s childhood.

Growing up listening to his dad’s record collection obviously did young Kyle no harm as he’s gone on to carve a respected niche for himself as a jazz performer and, inevitably, a film composer.

His work blends swing, groove and funk with more cinematic pieces. Jazz fans have the chance to hear Kyle play, as he and his band appear at Norwich Playhouse as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

“We’ll be playing quite a bit of music from my new CD, Songs From The Chateau, and some music from the last four or five CDs I’ve done,” he said.

We speak while Kyle is in London, preparing to play at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Concerts across the country will follow, before the band come to Norfolk.

“I always enjoy playing in the UK. I’ve always had great audiences here,” he added.

As a child in California, Kyle listened to records of jazz stars such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Miles Davis, and he credits his father with introducing him to the joys of the bass line.

“I grew up hearing it a lot around the house,” he said. “That’s how I initially got interested.”

Clint Eastwood had been attending the Monterey Jazz Festival since it began in 1958, and when his children were born it became a yearly family outing.

“Jazz concerts were some of the very first concerts I went to,” Kyle said.

“I think all that kind of got me interested in wanting to learn to play an instrument, and into jazz really.”

Initially studying film, Kyle soon realised that jazz was his true passion, and his debut album was released in 1998.

Explaining the appeal of the genre, he said: “As a player it’s the freedom to play how you want, and write and converse with the musicians you’re playing with in an open way – open dialogue.”

Of his own music he added: “It has influences of swing and traditional jazz, and there are influences of different kinds of music that I like as well – r ’n’ b and funk music, and probably a little bit of film music as well.”

His second album, Paris Blue, even included dad Clint whistling. It reached the top of the French jazz charts

Kyle has written music for films too. He began working in film with a contribution to the score for Mystic River. The film later won two Academy Awards.

He has also composed soundtracks for several of his father’s films, including Mystic River, Flags of Our Fathers, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino and, his favourite, Letters From Iwo Jima.

“That’s the one that I’m most proud of musically…the film came out very well and the music suited the film very well,” he said. “We’ve worked on quite a few films together. It’s a great challenge. I enjoy it.”

His band’s latest album, Songs From The Chateau, was recorded in Bordeaux, France last year, after the band had been touring.

Released this week, it has already received favourable reviews.

“It’s a pretty strong representation of the band that I’ve had for quite a few years now,” Kyle said.

“That’s probably the best way to record an album – go out and play it on the road for a while and go right into the studio afterwards. The dynamic and the interplay between the band is all really fresh. It came out really well. I’m happy with it.”

Kyle lives in Paris, but recently spent a month in Los Angeles working on the music for a documentary called Mulberry Child, which meant he was able to catch up with his father and the rest of the family.

And, although he must get asked all the time about having a famous dad, he remains relaxed about it.

“My father is a big shadow to be under sometimes, but I try not to worry about all that too much and stay focused on music and making music,” he said.

“When you’re related to someone that’s quite famous it’s hard to never be asked about it, but it doesn’t bother me.”

During the next few months Kyle and his band have concerts lined up across Europe, and in September they are due to play The Lake George Jazz Festival in New York State, USA.

“We’re on and off the road for most of the rest of the year,” Kyle said.

“I’m just looking forward to seeing everybody… hopefully they’ll come out and share some music with us.”

To some, he’ll always be known as Clint Eastwood’s son, but Kyle’s jazz is bringing the family name to a whole new audience. And, at NNF11, his music will doubtless speak for itself.

n The Kyle Eastwood Band play Norwich Playhouse on May 9, £17, under-26s £5, 01603 766400, www.nnfestival.org.uk

n Songs From The Chateau is out now.

n Further listening: www.kyleeastwood.com

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