Capping two extraordinary decades as a recording and performing artist, Kyle Eastwood's stylistically eclectic new album In Transit reflects the whirlwind reality of the breakneck schedule that he and his longtime ensemble keep. The Los Angeles bred, Paris based bassist and composer estimates that about half of the tracks were "road tested," with a few rendered completely fresh in the studio. Just as on his previous two critically acclaimed collections The View from Here and Time Pieces, Kyle plays with a powerfully swinging yet beautifully soulful and sensual quintet of young English musicians.
The longest-term members are pianist Andrew McCormack (12 years) and trumpeter and flugelhornist Quentin Collins (9 years). Newer to the fold, and adding brilliantly to the shared chemistry, are tenor and soprano saxophonist Brandon Allen (who made his first appearance on Time Pieces) and the latest member, drummer Chris Higginbottom. After inviting renowned Italian saxophonist Stefano Di Battista to join the ensemble on numerous gigs throughout Europe, Kyle invited him to bring his lush and lyrical sensibilities to the Sextant La Fonderie Studio in Malakoff, France to record on four tracks of the new album. The most prominent of these is the intimate and dreamlike acoustic re-imagining of "Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso," which was penned by Ennio Morricone.
The rhythmically intense, vibrantly re-imagined jazz classics on In Transit - Count Basie's "Blues in Hoss' Flat," Mingus' "Boogie Stop Shuffle" and Thelonious Monk's "We See" - create a wonderful dual sense for Kyle of coming full circle paying homage to his influences while bringing those traditions into a forward thinking contemporary context. Original compositions like the freewheeling funk-jazz hybrid "Rockin Ronnies" (an homage to Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club, the band's favorite London hotspot) and the brisk, high octane trip through a frenetic "Rush Hour" highlight the compositional talents of each member individually and collectively.
Other key tracks include the McCormack penned "Jarreau," a whimsical romp that pays tribute to the late great Al Jarreau, which borrows some harmony lines and chord changes from the singers "Not Like This," and "Soulful Times," a soaring and soul-jazz piece that opens the collection and introduces the ensemble's sense of easy swing, bright piano harmonies, dynamic horns and the infectious pocket grooves of Eastwood and Higginbottom.