KYLE EASTWOOD: JAZZ ARTIST IS HIS OWN MAN


Photo Credit: Rob Shanahan

by Paul Freeman [March 2012 Interview]

Kyle Eastwood would be in the upper echelon of contemporary jazz artists, even if his father was Shemp the plumber, rather than Clint Eastwood, the screen icon.

For more than 20 years, the bassist/bandleader/ composer has displayed a winning combination of talent, taste and imagination.

Though film is Clint Eastwoodís main milieu, he has always had a passion for jazz. And itís from his parents that Kyle, who was raised in Carmel, absorbed a fascination with music.

Though he entered college planning to major in film, with thoughts of eventually becoming a director, music beckoned. He honed his skills on acoustic, as well as electric bass, played in Los Angeles fusion groups and in orchestrasí string sections. When he was ready, he fronted his own combo. In 1998, Eastwood released an impressive album debut, ďFrom Here To There.Ē His work reflects the fact that he listens to diverse artists.

He has a worldly view of music and lives much of the time in Paris. In France, Eastwood recorded his fifth and most recent album. ďSongs From The ChateauĒ is mesmerizing, from start to finish, demonstrating his subtlety and sophistication as a composer. His bass playing is luminous and is complemented by his outstanding group - Andrew McCormack (piano), Graeme Flowers (trumpet, flugelhorn), Graeme Blevins (saxophones), Martyn Kaine (drums). They nimbly breathe life into the tunes, taking listeners on a wondrous journey. Eastwood will certainly spotlight some of these selections when the band plays Saratogaís Montalvo Arts Center on April 6 [details at montalvoarts.org].

Eastwoodís reputation as a film composer is also growing. With collaborator Michael Stevens, he has written scores for such films as ďInvictus,Ē ďGran Torino,Ē Rails & TiesĒ and ďAn Unlikely Weapon.Ē Eastwood also scored the new documentary, ďMulberry Child,Ē currently on the festival circuit.

With all he has accomplished, Eastwood still looks forward to exploring new jazz territory. He has fun playing music, but doesnít take it lightly. He told us, ďMy father always taught me to enjoy what youíre doing, but be serious about it and work hard.Ē

We at Pop Culture Classics are serious fans of Eastwoodís work and appreciated having the opportunity to talk with this exceptional musical artist again.

POP CULTURE CLASSICS:
ĎSongs From The Chateauí is a fabulous album. Are you constantly writing? Or do you wait until itís time for a new project?

KYLE

EASTWOOD:

I had a little break for a while, because we were touring a lot, through the making of the album. Two summers ago, I was writing the stuff and on the road, in between gigs and stuff like that. And then we started playing stuff on the road first and kind of worked it up along the way and then went in, at the end of the summer tour, and recorded the album. But Iíve been writing a bunch lately, because weíre probably going to go in and record a new one, hopefully in the next few months, this summer.

PCC:
Do you envision that taking new directions? Or more as a continuation?

EASTWOOD:
Thatís a good question. Iíve got seven or eight songs in varous stages of being finished. So Iíll let that dictate, to some degree, the direction. But Iíd say it wouuld more or less be the band Iíve been working with. Maybe a few guests, weíll see.

PCC:
Thereís been such a great diversity in your sound over the years. Is that something youíre conscious of? Or just due to your eclectic tastes?

EASTWOOD:
I do think itís at least partly due to all the different kinds of music I like. I grew up hearing a lot of jazz. But I really got into all different kinds of music. I still listen to all different kinds of music. I can listen to everything from Benny Goodman to Bjork to Radiohead to Duke Ellington. Anything, really. As long as itís good, Iím into anything, really.

PCC:
Do you tend to just let the music wash over you and enjoy it? Or do you study and analyze each of those different types of sounds?

EASTWOOD:
Well, I started out playing bass, I was kind of just playing with friends. I was teaching myself. Iíd played piano for a few years. I didnít really have any lessons on the bass. I just kind of picked it up and started teaching myself, really. And it kind of came easily. I just started learning Motown songs and R&B, stuff like that. And then kind of went from there.

And I was always into jazz, so I eventually started properly studying music and the bass. I studed jazz and classical music, as well.

Yeah, but, certain things, if itís a song I really like, Iíll sit down and kind of analyze it, but a lot of times, I just sort of listen to things and pick things up by osmosis, I guess.

PCC:
With the combo, how do you view the multifacted role of the bass player? Do you see it as the foundation?

EASTWOOD:
Some tunes feature the bass more than others, I guess. I donít know, Iíve always sort of liked music that was well balanced. I like to feature the bass, obviously, because thatís what I play [Chuckles], my main instrument, but I like to feature everybody, as well. Iíve always tried to put together bands where I really like the players and what they bring to the music. You hope you find somebody whose playing you really like and wants to be part of developing the sound of the group. Then you donít have to give them too much direction.

PCC:
Have you changed a great deal as a musician over the years? Can you chart the evolution?

EASTWOOD:
I started on electric bass as a teenager and then I started studying acoustic bass after that, when I was about 19 or so. I was doing both for a while, doing sessions and playing sometimes in fusion bands here and there in Los Angeles, and then playing acoustic bass in the string section in orchestral stuff sometimes. And then I got really into putting together the jazz quartet that I had for a while in Los Angeles. So I just focused on playing the acoustic bass for a few years and got really into that. Thatís when I did my first album in 1998, I guess it was. And then I kind of went back to doing both and writing music that sort of had influences from all the different styles of music that I liked.

PCC:
Living abroad, how does that affect your musical perspective?

EASTWOOD:
Well, you hear a lot of different styles of music. I think people, in general, when you go to someoneís house in France, you see a pretty eclectic spread of music a lot of times. Youíll see some big band jazz from the Ď30s or 40s and youíll see Moroccan music and pop music and then youíll see disco [Laughs], all this different kinds of stuff. I like it when people appreciate a lot of different styles of music.

PCC:
Is it also an advantage, being overseas, being out of your comfort zone? Does that prick your ears up a little more somehow?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, I think so. Traveling in general, traveling to new countries, experiencing new cultures and especially hearing music from other cultures, thatís always been something thatís inspiring to me. So yeah, Iíve always found that Iíve had really good writing sessions after going to places like North Africa and South Africa and India and places like that. Iíve always really enjoyed listening to music in those places, trying to pick some of it up.

PCC:
In terms of both composing and playing, do you want to avoid getting too comfortable? Are you always wanting to explore new things?

EASTWOOD:
Well, yeah, I hope so. Thereís always room to grow as a musician and to learn new things. Playing with different people, you react differently and play differently. Thatís always a learning experience. Yeah, Iím always up for any musical experience or collaboration.

PCC:
Your work in film scoring, has that expanded your palette as a composer?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah. I grew up watching a lot of films. I grew up seeing a lot of old films, through my Dad. He turned me on to a lot of stuff that, I guess, being a kid at the time, I probably wouldnít have seen otherwise. So I heard a lot of film scores and got really into that.

I really just started doing the films scoring thing by just playing on film scores at first and kind of seeing the inner workings of how they were done from that perspective and gradually working my way up to writing bits and pieces here and there for some films. And finally worked up to doing the whole score.

PCC:
It must have been very satisfying to make that particular journey.

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, itís been great. I started out, after high school, I was kind of interested in maybe trying to be a director. I started film school, but that was when I started getting really more and more involved in studying and playing music and shifted directions at that point. But itís nice for me to be able to be involved in filmmaking. But through music.

PCC:
Do you ever ponder directing a film, perhaps with the world of music as a backdrop?

EASTWOOD:
I havenít really thought too much about directing. Iíve been working pretty steadily in music [Laughs], since I shifted directions, twenty-some years ago. But I donít know. You never know. Maybe someday. It would certainly be great. Iíd love to be involved in something like that. Maybe I could do a film with an all-jazz score.

PCC:
You actually appear in ĎJ. Edgarí? I havenít seen it yet.

EASTWOOD:
Iím ashamed to say I havenít seen it yet myself. But I think I am. From what I understand, I made it in there for a moment. I donít know how much made it into the film. But yeah, I put together a band and did some music for a scene thatís supposed to be at the Stork Club in like the Ď30s. So Iím probably in it very briefly. If you donít blink, you might not miss me [Laughs]. Iíve been traveling so much, been in Europe, so I havenít had a chance to see it. But Iím hoping to catch it soon.

PCC:
It must have been fun to imagine you were playing in the Stork Club in the Ď30s.

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, it was kind of fun of get to dress up and recreate the Stork Club. It was a fun dayís work.

PCC:
So when you and your dad get together, do you still jam sometimes?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, we do. We get together and play. We havenít done it for a little while. But yeah, we usually sit and play. He plays piano and Iíll play bass or something. Weíve played together here and there before. But itís been a year or two since last time. Usually, like around the holidays, when weíre together, we like to play a little bit.

PCC:
It must be nice to have always had that extra bond through music.

EASTWOOD:
Yeah. I mean, he turned me on to a lot of music, growing up. Both my parents are very big jazz fans. Thatís pretty much what gave me my initial interest in the music, was just hearing it around the house. And then going to jazz concerts. I think the very first concerts I ever saw were jazz concerts. So thatís definitely what gave me my early interest in wanting to play an instrument.

PCC:
It must be inspiring to see the way your father remains so creative even at an advanced age. Is that something you look at and aspire to?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, definitely. I hope Iím still able to work as hard and still doing what I love at 82. Itís definitely inspiring.

PCC:
What do you see as being the key to longevity as a musician?

EASTWOOD:
Well, I think itís true that, if youíre able to make a living doing what you really love, you never work a day in your life. My father, thatís what heís always loved to do, is make films. And direct. Heís focused more on that in recent years. Although heís getting back to doing an acting bit this year. But I think, yeah, just doing what you love and working hard at it... He always taught me to enjoy what youíre doing, but be serious about it and work hard.

PCC:
You were such a big part of ĎHonky Tonk Man,í which a movie I really love. Itís got that suggestion in there that music can be a form of immortality. Is that something youíre conscious of, as you write and record? Do you think about how it might play out over time?

EASTWOOD:
I donít really think about that too much, while Iím doing it. Itís nice, when you look back at something, when youíre happy with it, you think maybe youíve made a nice little mark with something. But while Iím doing it, Iím not too conscious of that. Youíre usually just trying to do the best you can with it. And put your heart and soul into it and, hopefully, itíll come out well [Laughs].

PCC:
So is it more just a question of pleasing yourself? Or do you give any thought, while creating, as to what effect you want to have on the listener?

EASTWOOD:
I try to play music that I would like to listen to, as well. And hopefully, itís music that the listener would like, as well. And I like a lot of different styles of music and I love listening to a lot of different things, more avant garde and progressive stuff. But itís nice to play stuff that is a balance, so hopefully musicians will like it and then the average listener will like it, as well.

PCC:
Do you still view jazz music as an ongoing adventure for you?

EASTWOOD:
Definitely. Iím definitely always trying to come up with something new. So much great music has been done. So Iím always trying to think of some new spin to put on something or a new way of making music.

But Iím all for keeping jazz and playing it traditionally. But Iím also very much into different styles of music, so Iím not a jazz snob, per se. I think jazz started from a blend of African music and European music, European harmony. I think anybody can do anything, really, with jazz, as long as itís done well, tastefully.

PCC:
What are the biggest challenges for you, in terms of the life of a musician?

EASTWOOD:
Well, I love playing music. And playing live is the most musically satisfying thing. But the travel can get wearying sometimes [Chuckles]. But Iím not complaining. Thatís just part of getting out there to play music.

PCC:
As for the rewards that are most important to you, is it the respect of fellow musicians, audience response, the creative process itself?

EASTWOOD:
The audience definitely plays a big part. Even if the band is playing really, really well, I think if the audience is really appreciative and enthusiastic, they can sort of raise the bar a little bit. So thatís defniitely an important thing. And yeah, the other musicians youíre playing with. Itís always been important to me to put together a band of musicians and develop a sound with a particular group of musicians.

You want to get it to the point where that magical thing happens, where itís sort of like telepathy, those moments where everything gels. Thatís the beauty of music, and jazz in particular, I think.

PCC:
Any other projects on the horizon, besides the new CD?

EASTWOOD:
I wrote the music for a documentary last year, which is now being shown at film festivals. Itís called ĎMulberry Child.í But mainly Iíve just been traveling and playing a lot this past year. But weíre getting ready to go into the studio, maybe in June or July at the latest, and do another album.

For more on Kyle Eastwood, visit kyleeastwood.com.

UPCOMING TOUR DATES:


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KYLE EASTWOOD: COMPOSING HIS OWN CREATIVE PATH

By Paul Freeman (November 2010 interview)

Bassist/composer Kyle Eastwoodís musical journey began on the Monterey Peninsula, continues in France, and has dazzled jazz buffs across the globe.

Kyle has been living primarily in Paris for the past six years. Heís in the U.S. for several concerts, including a return to the Bay Area for a Yoshiís San Francisco performance on Wednesday, Nov. 17 (Information: 415-655-5600; www.yoshis.com/sanfrancisco).

His superb band features Alex Norris (trumpet), Jason Rigby (saxophone), Rick Germanson (piano, keys), and Joe Strasser (drums).

Kyle grew up around Carmel and his musical fire was sparked by annual treks to the Monterey Jazz Festival with his jazz aficionado parents, Clint and Maggie Eastwood

Over the years, at the festival, Kyle absorbed the performances of such legends as Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson, Count Basie, Stan Getz and Art Pepper.

He took piano lessons, then learned guitar to appear with his father in the under-appreciated country music movie ďHonky Tonk Man.Ē In his teens, his attention turned to the bass.

Kyle developed his skills on both acoustic and electric bass, drawing inspiration from funky Duck Dunn and Motownís James Jamerson, rockís John Paul Jones, and Larry Graham, as well as jazz greats Paul Chambers, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Israel Crosby, Dave Holland, Charlie Haden, Anthony Jackson and Jaco Pastorius.

Attending USC, Kyle studied film, contemplating a career as a director. But he began gigging around Los Angeles and the allure of music proved irresistible.

Kyle has been earning acclaim for his recordings since 1998. His latest album, ďMetropolitain,Ē displays his brilliance as both a composer and bassist. His playing is subtly driving and inventive. His songwriting is imaginatively melodic and rhythmic.

Kyle has also become an accomplished film composer. He has written music for many of his fatherís movies.

Kyle composed (with frequent writing partner Michael Stevens) the beautiful scores for ďGran TorinoĒ and ďInvictus.Ē

As much as Kyle enjoys composing, nothing compares to the exhilaration of hitting the road to perform live. He spoke with Pop Culture Classics just before launching his U.S. tour.

POP CULTURE CLASSICS:
What can we expect in terms of mix of material? Are you going to be drawing from throughout your career?

KYLE EASTWOOD:
Yeah, probably a few songs from most all the CDs Iíve done. Weíll probably do quite a bit of stuff from the last CD and we should be doing some stuff from an upcoming release that I just recorded a few months ago. Weíve been throwing a few songs from that into the set lately.

PCC:
And that was recorded in France?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, we recorded it at the end of August, in Bordeaux, actually. Itíll be out, I think, in March next year.

PCC:
And does that take you in any new directions?

EASTWOOD:
Well, it was mostly written in Paris and itís sort of more or less my usual working band in Europe. So we kind of just set up at a friend of a friendís working vineyard. So we brought a bunch of stuff down and recorded live in his living room.

PCC:
And youíve been living in France for a while?

EASTWOOD:
I have been, yeah. I live there most of the time. Iíve been in Paris about six years now.

PCC:
The new surroundings, did they stimulate new musical ideas?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, I guess it has its influences. Iíve had the opportunity to play with different musicians and to perform in festivals all over France.

PCC:
Do you find that thereís still a more receptive feeling towards jazz in Europe?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, I think generally, people are more interested in it. People in France, and in Europe generally, they like a lot of different kinds of music. Theyíre not focused on one thing all the time. So people are more receptive, have more eclectic kind of tastes.

PCC:
Are they relying more on their own tastes and instincts, instead of having things foisted on them by the media?

EASTWOOD:
Probably, yeah. A bit, I would say. Even the radio over there, thereís a couple of stations in Paris, theyíll play a new pop tune and then something from the 1950s or the 1940s. Radio is a little less regimented there. More open-minded.

PCC:
You had a quartet for a while. Going to a quintet, deciding what instrumentation and which musicians would best complement your tunes, was that a big process?

Photo Credit Rob Shanahan

EASTWOOD:
Well, I like the quintet. I like writing for two horns. That lends itself to the music I write a lot of the time.

PCC:
What is your writing process like? Do you usually write on piano? Does some of it come out of the bass?

EASTWOOD:
Occasionally something will come out on the bass, if there happens to be some bass line that drives a song. So sometimes thereís a bass line first. A lot of times, Iíll sit down at the piano and come up with a chord progression or a melodic motif and kind of work it from there.

PCC:
Is there a ton of experimentation during that process? Or do you hear it in your head fully developed?

EASTWOOD:
Itís different every time. Sometimes thereís experimenting. Usually thereís some sort of chord progression or chord changes or a melodic hook that I hear in my head, as I sit at the piano. Thereís other times when it really just comes out of experimenting. When I co-write stuff with people, sometimes Iíll come up with a little idea and then Iíll give it to them and see where can go with it. And we kick it back and forth. If it ends up going in another direction, thatís cool.

PCC:
I guess thatís part of the creative excitement, collaborating with different people, composing and playing?

EASTWOOD:
I do enjoy collaboration. If youíre writing, it can make you go in a direction you might not go in, if you were on your own. Thatís kind of exciting, kind of like jazz in general.

PCC:
Is that what attracted you to jazz originally, the adventurous quality?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, playing with people and having the freedom to play what you want. Playing with a lot of different people, you learn a lot. Yeah, thatís what initially attracted me to it. And when I was a kid, just going to see jazz concerts with my parents is kind of what got me interested in wanting to play an instrument, just listening to somebody whoís really proficient gave me this urge to get to that level.

PCC:
You grew up primarily in Carmel?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah. When I was about one, I moved up, pretty much full time, to the Monterey Peninsula.

PCC:
And thereís so much great jazz in that area.

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, well, thereís the festival every year. So thatís a big event on the Peninsula. My parents have been going for a long time. My father was at the very first one. My parents made that a yearly outing. The first time I went was about Ď77, so I was about nine, eight.

PCC:
Even at such an early age, was that a magical experience?

EASTWOOD:
Well, it was really the first live experience I ever saw, so thatís what got me into it. I remember watching from the side of the stage sometimes, when I would go with my Dad. So, to be able to sit by the side of the stage and listen to like The Count Basie big band. I remember being very impressed by that, when I was a kid.

PCC:
And as you got a little older, were you able to talk with these people, interact, receive advice?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, some. When I was really little, I remember going and seeing people I knew from my parents listening to around the house. Some of them I didnít know as well and didnít realize until later how influential they would be. [Chuckles]. But yeah, I got to see a lot of people over the years there. I saw Buddy Rich and Louis Bellson and Count Basieís big band when Count Basie was still alive and playing with the band. And Stan Getz, Art Pepper. people like that.

PCC:
At that point, did it seem like music might be the path you were going to pursue?

EASTWOOD:
I hadnít decided I wanted to be a musician at that point. I started taking piano lessons when I was a kid and did that for a few years. And I learned some guitar for a film I did with my father, when I was about 12. Then, a year or two after that, I sort of picked up the bass. And just sort of started teaching myself to play, just from what I knew from piano. I started playing with friends. Iíve got two friends who were very good musicians, who played in the jazz band in high school. I just started kind of playing with them. It wasnít until I was 18 or so that I started really, really getting into music and playing and studying. That was when I went full bore into it.

PCC:
Was it a benefit, that you taught yourself to play bass, so you could find your own identity on it?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, I guess I realized that it kind of came natural to me. I had played drums. The rhythm section was something I really liked. So it kind of just felt natural. So thatís why I leaned towards pursuing that.

PCC:
Your mom was a jazz buff, also?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, she is, my parents both are. My mom still goes out to the festival every year. Yeah, theyíre both very big jazz fans. It was kind of their pastime, when they were in their early days, when they were married, they would go clubbing, around L.A.

PCC:
And she plays piano, your Dad plays piano and your grandmother was a music teacher?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, my grandmother on my motherís side. She was a voice teacher at Northwestern University.

PCC:
Did you know her?

EASTWOOD:
I did when I was very little. She passed away when I was about six. But yeah, I knew her a bit.

PCC:
And your parents must have had extensive record collections.

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, my Dadís got a pretty good collection. They both do. But my Dadís got quite a collection. Heís got a lot of 78s. A lot of old stuff.

PCC:
And did you dig into that collection much as a kid? Or were you listening to the contemporary music your peers were focused on?

EASTWOOD:
I did. I mean, he was playing stuff for me sometimes. I kind of got into more contemporary stuff and other styles of music. I listen to a lot of different things. Jazz is really my first love, but I like a lot of different kinds of music.

PCC:
Your Dad actually played boogie piano with you, when you were very young?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, thatís kind of what he plays the best. He taught himself, from listening to Fats Waller records and things like that. So, yeah, I think the very first thing I learned on piano was kind of the left hand, the bass line parts, to couple of boogie-woogie piano things. That was kind of my initial exposure to bass playing. [Laughs] Heíd play the right-hand part and teach me just the left-hand parts and weíd play together.

PCC:
So, the guitar, that came out of ĎHonky Tonk Maní?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, I had to learn some chords and some stuff, so I would look like I was playing a bit.

PCC:
You were so natural in that film. Did you think that acting might be a path for you?

EASTWOOD:
I did a little bit here and there, but I guess I was never really bitten by the acting bug, per se. I was always very much into film. And I still am. When I went to university, USC, I started there as a film major. But I was kind of getting more and more into music by that point. And I think, if I had decided to go into film, I would probably have preferred trying to direct. I was more interested in the whole process of making films, more so than being in front of the camera.

PCC:
So did you leave school at some point or did you just change your major to Music?

EASTWOOD:
I left, because I was starting to do some gigs and starting to play a little bit around Los Angeles. So I decided to take a year off and just pursue music. And I was studying with a couple different people and I wanted to just focus on that, see where that took me for a year. And that was twenty-some years ago now [Chuckles]

PCC:
And how did your parents react? Were they supportive? Or were they worried?

EASTWOOD:
They were happy. They could see I was really into it. They would have been supportive of me whatever I decided to do, as long as I was serious about it and working hard at it. Theyíre both into music and I think they were both happy that Iíd found something I was really passionate about.

PCC:
It must have been kind of cool for your father, because it always seemed like that might have been a dream for him, to pursue a music career.

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, when he was younger, if you had asked him what he wanted to do, when he was in his late teens or early twenties, he would have probably told you heíd like to have been a piano player. [Laughs]

PCC:
So once you got into the bass, at the beginning, were you emulating the greats you heard on record?

EASTWOOD:
When I was just starting out, the first things I was learning was stuff from like Motown records and R&B stuff, like James Jamerson and Duck Dunn and people like that. And some rock Ďní roll, like Led Zeppelin, things like that. I started figuring things like that out. I didnít start out trying to play jazz. I listened to a lot of different people and tried to absorb aspects of their playing that I liked and tried to incorporate in such a way that hopefully, you can make something out of it thatís your own.

PCC:
And once you did veer into jazz, were their particular players who dazzled you?

EASTWOOD:
Paul Chambers, I listened to a lot. And, of course, Ray Brown and Ron Carter and Israel Crosby and Dave Holland, people like that. Charlie Haden. And then, of course, a lot of the electric players, as well. Jaco Pastorius, of course. Anthony Jackson. Larry Graham.

PCC:
Playing acoustic, electric, double bass, does that versatility give you more colors to use, in composing, as well as playing?

EASTWOOD:
Itís nice to be able to play both. Depending on the music, I can decide which I want to play. It just depends what the song requires, stylistically. I like a lot of different styles of jazz. And a lot of different styles of music, in general. So itís nice to be able to have the different colors of different instruments.

PCC:
And when you incorporate a funk flavor or a bit of an R&B feel, is that a conscious decision or does it just naturally come out of your influences?

EASTWOOD:
Itís all stuff that Iíve sort of steeped myself in, stuff that Iíve listened to for countless hours. So itís not really a conscious decision. Itís just that all the music I like, sort of influences the stuff that I come up with and the stuff that I write. It just comes out naturally, really. I like a lot of R&B and funk music. And pop music, as well. And film music. All those things sort of creep in there a bit.

PCC:
What about working with Erin Davis [Miles Davisí son and co-producer of Eastwoodís new album] on ĎMetropolitainí? What sort of music sensibility did he bring to the table?

EASTWOOD:
Weíve known each other for a while. And heís a drummer. He has these amazing ears. He listens to everything. He goes out and buys CDs, bags full at a time, like once a week [Laughs]. He totally knows everything thatís going on. Heís a great person to have in the studio. A great extra set of ears there to give you his opinion, to listen and maybe point you in another direction sometimes.

PCC:
Did you ever compare notes on growing up with legendary fathers?

EASTWOOD:
Uh, yeah, weíve talked about it a bit, here and there. We sort of have that thing in common. Weíve known each other for a while. We met back around 1990 or something, in Montreaux, actually, when his father was over there, playing. I think it was actually one of the last big concerts that he did before he passed away. We both were living in L.A. at the time and a mutual friend introduced us. We just had a lot in common, musical taste. So we kind of hit it off very well.

PCC:
You must have had an advantage there, having focused on a different artistic path from your fatherís primary endeavors? So you donít have to deal with a lot of comparisons?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, itís nice working with him, as well. Itís nice to be able to stay involved with film, through music. I love both mediums, both film and music, very much. So itís nice to be able to work with him and then stay involved in film through the music route.

PCC:
When you first began scoring, what was the most challenging aspect, as you dealt with the technical aspects of cueing things up and all of that?

EASTWOOD:
Well, I started out doing music, just playing in orchestras, doing sessions and stuff for films. So thatís how I initially got the idea of how it was done, saw a bit how things were orchestrated. Then I just started writing little bits and pieces here and there, for some of my Dadís films. I kind of just worked my way up from there to doing the whole score.

PCC:
ĎGran Torinoí is a beautiful score, by the way.

EASTWOOD:
Oh, thanks.

PCC:
So when your Dad would give you a scene to work on, would he tell you what mood he wanted you to set? Actually get into what instrumentation he heard in his head?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, sometimes. I mean, it depends. Itís different. Sometimes he has a very distinctive idea of what he wants, what heís hearing for it. And then a lot of times, heíll have me look at the scene and just says, ĎCome up with something. Show me what you can come up with.í So itís nice that you get some direction and you also get some creative freedom, as well.

PCC:
Going into that whole thing, did you study some of the great film composers?

EASTWOOD:
Well, yeah. I listened to a lot of film composers over the years. Actually, Ennio Morricone is one of my favorites. He did a lot of scores for my fatherís films. Heís definitely one of my favorites. I watch a lot of movies. When I started doing it, I started paying more attention to the old films, trying to listen to what they were doing, as I watched.

PCC:
So you might have more of a tendency now to watch and analyze how the score is affecting the film?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, I think I try and take notice more. It depends. Some films, like my father is of a mind that less is more, in the score department. It depends on the film. Sometimes film scores are subtle and you donít really notice them too much. Youíd probably notice them more if they werenít there, than if theyíre there. And then thereís the sort of scores like the John Williams scores, which are great. Theyíre kind of in-your-face, almost like theyíre almost one of the characters in the film, as much as any of the other characters.

PCC:
Many of your fatherís films featured scores by terrific jazz composers like Jerry Fielding.

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, Jerry did some.

PCC:
And Lennie Niehaus.

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, Lennie did a quite a few films with him. And, actually, watching Lennie work and playing in the orchestra on some of his scores was how I got exposed to the sort of inner workings of how itís done.

PCC:
So did you tend to ask questions or just pick things up by osmosis?

EASTWOOD:
Just hanging around and watching it being done. Sometimes I would ask him questions about things. But usually I learned just from hanging around with orchestra, playing, watching him work, watching him conduct and stuff. Sometimes Iíd get the music and hang onto his music and look at some of the orchestrations and things like that.

PCC:
And your Dadís been increasingly involved in composing. Do you enjoy seeing his musical gifts coming to the fore at this point in his life?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, on some of the films weíve worked on together, he comes up with a musical idea or a melody, a little melodic motif. And then we incorporate that into it. It helps to build the score around that.

PCC:
And have you found that writing film scores has enhanced your compositional skills generally?

EASTWOOD:
Oh, definitely, yeah. When you have to try and write for orchestras and stuff, itís a lot of instruments. Yeah, it helps you with being able to write parts, even for small group stuff. I think any sort of musical situation like that, that you throw yourself into, you learn from. And working with different musicians definitely opens your mind up to things... and your ears.

PCC:
Do you go back and listen to your earliest work and chart how youíve progressed as a composer?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, I think Iíve definitely grown, playing-wise and composing-wise, over the last six, seven, 10 years. But youíre always sort of your worst critic. And thereís always room for growth. But I can definitely hear where Iíve come from.

PCC:
What about the role of bandleader, is that something that came naturally to you? You were interested in directing films at one point. Is there a correlation between that and leading a combo?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah. The way I like to be a band leader is, you pick musicians whose playing you really like and try to find guys who are interested in playing in the band. I try keep a band together, the same positions, for a while. Iíve managed to do that for the last few years. Itís important to find guys that you really like, get along with personally, you like what they bring to the band, you like their style of playing. So you can direct by not giving them too much direction.

PCC:
Are you a fan of not showing off individually, but wanting the group members to just complement one another?

EASTWOOD:
Well, the music I write, I sort of like to feature everybody. I like to write music thatís sort of through-composed to do parts, but then has spaces for improvisation. There are records I like where bass plays the melody, bass records. Thatís fun. But that gets a little tiresome sometimes. Keeping a balance in the compositions and a balance in playing, itís more interesting for me.

PCC:
With the success in recording and scoring, will you always want to play live, because it offers a different kind of satisfaction?

EASTWOOD:
Well, I think thatís the most musically satisfying thing to do is to get out and play. Especially with jazz. Thatís sort of the beauty of jazz. Thatís where the magic happens. I mean, I like working in the studio and doing film scores. But itís a lot of sitting around, trying things, trial and error and editing, things like that. Getting out, playing, is the most fun.

PCC:
Do you establish long-term goals for yourself musically? Or do you just take it project to project?

EASTWOOD:
Iíd like to keep working on film scores and just trying to keep splitting my time a little bit, doing both. This year Iíve really focused on the band, writing this last album and recording it. We had a lot of gigs around Europe. And we just did a couple weeks in Asia. So Iíve been kind of busy doing that. So I havenít really done any film project this year so far. But to be able to do both would be good. Itís hard to find the time, but I do enjoy both.

PCC:
Do you consciously aim at creating music that will last, that will have a life of its own?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, I hope so. Thatís what youíre trying to do. You just try to do your best. I try and write music that I would be happy and interested to listen to. And hopefully other people will be, as well. Hopefully it will last and people will continue to listen to.

PCC:
Has that been vital to you, to have that release that writing and playing provide?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, thatís my big passion. Itís what I do. It takes up most of my time. So itís definitely important to me to have that outlet.

PCC:
Is there a concern about music entirely taking over your life?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, it kind of does. Iíve actually got a bit of time off right now. Iím in New York, spending time with my daughter before I have some gigs here in the city. But yeah, especially when youíre touring and stuff, it does monopolize your time. Youíre either playing or youíre going somewhere to play. A lot of traveling. Itís fun, though.

PCC:
Your daughter, is she in her teens?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, sheís 16.

PCC:
Is she into music, too?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, very much. She studied piano and voice for a while. But sheís actually been playing drums for about four years or so. Sheís really getting into that.

PCC:
Does she want to play in a rock band?

EASTWOOD:
She likes a lot of contemporary music. But she grew up listening to a lot of what I listen to. So she likes jazz a bit. But she likes a lot of R&B music. She likes Earth, Wind & Fire and James Brown.

PCC:
And your sister sings. It must be something in the genes.

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, everybody seems to be into music in my family. At least a lot of siblings are. My little sister sings. Sheís got a very nice voice. And she plays piano a little bit. So everybodyís definitely got a taste for music.

PCC:
Musicís a good thing for bonding.

EASTWOOD:
Yes, it is. Itís a good thing for bonding for everybody. Even if it doesnít have words, itís something everyone can understand at some level.

PCC:
Do you find that, with instrumental music, thereís room for more imagination, taking the listener on a different kind of journey?

EASTWOOD:
Yeah, well, itís a universal language, I guess. You can listen to music from other cultures. Without words, it gives you some sort of feeling. And itís open to everyone. Itís one of the few languages that everyone can understand, in some respect.