The Son Will Shine

music featureClint Eastwood’s son Kyle talks France, film and the Monterey Jazz Festival

Children of celebrities often find it difficult to emerge from the shadows of their parents and create their own unique light in the wilderness of fame. Kyle Eastwood, son of Clint, has bypassed the penumbra by relocating to France and performing at clubs and festivals with a smoking hot jazz band. And by sheer geography, Eastwood avoids hearing daily references to reality television shows and Republican National Convention speeches. Skyping in from Paris, France, where he has lived for the last seven years, the young Grammy-nominated composer and musician says, “That is a definite upside.”

During his 20 years of playing jazz from coast-to-coast and throughout Europe, Eastwood has proven his mettle onstage and garners high praise from both the press and fans.

His love of the genre dates back to his childhood in Carmel, Calif. During the 1970s, he attended the Monterey Jazz Festival with his father, himself an ardent jazz aficionado, and it was there that he had an epiphany: “It was the music I grew up listening to through my parents,” he recalls. “Seeing Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughn and Count Basie is what got me interested in jazz and playing an instrument.”

As a young boy, Eastwood was able to apply the music theory he had learned while playing piano to other instruments, and, in doing so, earned himself a role alongside his father in the 1982 Depression-era movie Honkytonk Man. Eastwood not only delivered a moving performance—but, “I learned guitar for the film when I was 12,” he says. “I had to play it in the movie so I had to look like I was really playing.”

Eastwood would join his father onscreen a few more times, but he found an even more valuable role creating soundtracks for some of Clint’s most memorable films, including Million Dollar Baby, Letters From Iwo Jima and Invictus. He spoke about his experience recently at the John Ford Film Festival in Ireland, where he also led workshops and taught aspiring film composers the ropes, but a heavy touring schedule with his jazz band has kept him out of the studio. “I might be involved in my father’s next film, a remake of A Star is Born with Beyoncé,” he says.

As part of that busy touring schedule, The Kyle Eastwood Band will perform at this weekend’s 55th annual Monterey Jazz Festival—back on the same fairgrounds where he first fell in love with jazz.

There are dozens of jazz festivals in France, but Eastwood still considers Monterey’s to be one of the finest in the world. “It’s amazing they have stayed vital all these years. At The Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, 90 percent of the acts are pop and rock—it’s a two-week festival that has only, like, two jazz artists,” he says. “There are some great ones here in France but I enjoy coming home to play.”

Eastwood’s newest release, Songs from the Chateau, is a combination of easy-listening compositions with Middle Eastern and African influences that could easily be soundtracks to future films, alongside more aggressive tunes that harken back to the golden years of jazz.

Asked what festival attendees can expect from his upcoming set, Eastwood said, “We play mostly what’s on my albums—original music. I will do the odd standard and a couple of arrangements I’ve done for films as well.”

The Kyle Eastwood Band will play at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23 at the Monterey Jazz Festival, 2004 Fairground Road, Monterey. $50/one-day pass. Visit montereyjazzfestival.org.

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