For bassist composer Kyle Eastwood, 46, growing up meant hearing a wide range of music — and especially a lot of jazz — from an early age straight through his teenage years.
Eastwood's mother was a musician, and his maternal grandmother taught music at Northwestern University. In addition to being a legendary actor and director, Eastwood's father, Clint, is a self-taught pianist and composer who also made films about Charlie Parker ("Bird," a 1988 biopic) and Thelonious Monk (the 1988 documentary "Straight, No Chaser").
Kyle Eastwood's new album, "Time Pieces," pays tribute to a slice of the music he heard growing up: the lyrical hard-bop of the late 1950s and early/mid 1960s, on Blue Note albums ranging from Horace Silver's "Blowin' the Blues Away" (1959) to Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" (1965). This weekend, Eastwood brings some of those sounds to the Side Door in Old Lyme for a two-night run on Friday and Saturday, March 27 and 28.
Some of the records Eastwood's parents played around the house included Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis and Stan Getz. "I listened to all kinds of stuff," Eastwood said. "I kind of always leaned toward music that was a little before my time, either stuff from the 1960s or earlier."
For "Time Pieces," however, Eastwood didn't consciously intend to make a hard-bop tribute album. "I started putting some of the tunes that I liked from that period into the set with my band in the last year or two," Eastwood said. "So when it came time to record I knew I wanted to do some of those tunes." As he started writing original music, those sounds crept in. "That's just kind of the way it came out."
Eastwood, who spends eight months a year in Europe, and his longtime London-based ensemble — pianist Andrew McCormack, trumpeter Quentin Collins, saxophonist Brandon Allen and drummer Ernesto Simpson — recorded and mixed the album over a single weeklong period in June 2014. The album features a hard-driving take on Silver's "Blowin' the Blues Away," a loping version of Hancock's "Dolphin Dance" and Eastwood originals, including the Brazilian-tinged "Caipirinha," which alternates between a straight-ahead triple-meter groove and a swinging 4/4; the boogaloo-funk of "Prosecco Smile"; and "Vista," a plaintive ballad. ("Peace of Silver" is a tribute to the pianist and Connecticut native who died in 2014, shortly before "Time Pieces" was recorded.)
For stateside gigs, Eastwood performs with a quintet of musicians from New York — pianist Richard Germanson, trumpeter Alex Norris, saxophonist Jason Rigby and drummer Joe Strasser — who appear on Miles Davis' "Pfrancing (No Blues)," a "Time Pieces" bonus track. "That's the band I'm bringing to Connecticut," Eastwood said. "I perform with them in that formation maybe a couple of times a year, and they know a lot of the music."
Some of Eastwood's original music has appeared in his father's films over the years, including "Mystic River," "Million Dollar Baby" and "Letters From Iwo Jima." Composing for films, Eastwood said, required a different mindset. "You have to respect what the director has in mind, what he hears in his head, and hopefully you can sway him toward your tastes or what you think it should be. You're playing a much more supportive role. The music isn't really the focus... You're called to do whatever is needed for the film, and you have to think outside of your box."
Two nights at the Side Door, Eastwood added, will allow his band to stretch out and get comfortable.
"We try to put together a strong set and maybe try to do it a little bit differently each night, to see what works best," Eastwood said. "It's always nice to play somewhere and stay a few nights, because a lot of times you just come in and play one night and jump on a plane or a train and go somewhere else. It's nice to get a room and stay for a couple of days."
>>Bassist Kyle Eastwood plays Friday and Saturday, March 27 and 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the Side Door in Old Lyme. Tickets are $45. Information: thesidedoorjazz.com.