Jim Gilchrist and Fiona Shepherd report from the Edinburgh International Jazz Festival
Kyle Eastwood Band, Assembly Hall, Edinburgh ****
THE Kyle Eastwood Band’s current album is called In Transit and, yes, they can certainly shift, which became clear as the quintet kicked off a superbly tight set with a no-nonsense treatment of Adele’s Skyfall theme, with crisp unison horns launching trumpeter Quentin Collins into full flight, Andrew McCormack’s piano in hot pursuit, while Eastwood’s double bass thrummed.
The cinematic aspect would recur: the band have an album of film scores due out in the autumn and Eastwood, as son of Clint, is no stranger to composing for screen. However the cheer that greeted his announcement of an Ennio Morricone theme proved misplaced: no spaghetti western music emerged but a loving treatment of Cinema Paradiso, Eastwood spelling it out gently on bass guitar before Brandon Allen took it up on clarinet.
The reedy calling of Allen’s clarinet also contributed to the atmospheric Marrakesh, Eastwood setting the vibe with echoing, bowed double bass. There was a gospel-informed swagger to Soulful Times, while the tempo accelerated for The Swamp, bass guitar and Andrew McCormack’s piano working up a hypnotic pulse as tenor sax and trumpet took well-wrought solos and Eastwood sparred energetically with Chris Higginbottom’s drums.
This high energy was maintained in the beefy swing of Rockin’ Ronnie’s, a showcase for Collins, before Eastwood sounded a resonant double bass prelude to Charles Mingus’s classic Boogie Stop Shuffle, the horns taking up its urgent hook and the band running with it with verve and style.
Sons of Kemet, George Square Spiegeltent, Edinburgh ****
THE Mercury Music Prize-nominated Sons of Kemet are a jazz fusion powerhouse reeling in new audiences with their irresistible double drummer action – did someone mention Adam & the Ants? – and stellar frontline of Shabaka Hutchings on saxophone and Theon Cross on tuba.
Together, this toast-of-London quartet delivered a serious blast of hipster cool through a sweaty Spiegeltent, beginning with a light dusting of percussion, Cross providing the bass rhythm and Hutchings taking flight to a higher plane.
The unfolding trip made the most of the dynamic contrast between the urgency of Hutchings’ playing and the cheeky character of the tuba against the tight, skittering backdrop provided by drummers Tom Skinner and Eddie Hick.
The dance party crossover potential was considerable, with members of the capacity crowd even wearing neon raver necklaces. There was a teasing sparsity to some of the set, but the up-for-it audience responded to the slightest provocation from Hutchings’ throaty tones.
Although there was fun to be had with Cross’s foghorn blasts and precise parps against that propulsive percussive drive, it was Hutchings’ melodic interventions which always raised the game.
From there, it was an easy task to ramp up the rhythm, with the band layering on seductive and eminently funky Afrobeat and Afro-Caribbean influences to bring the set home in ecstatic style.