| Kyle Eastwood
London, Dec. 24: En route to a Soho restaurant to interview the 34-year-old son of Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood, facetious urges are hard to keep in check. The question I'm dying to ask ' 'Are you feeling lucky, punk' ' I can't. Given that Kyle Eastwood is a reputable jazz bassist and soundtrack composer, it's disrespectful to rib him with his father's most memorable on-screen line.
Besides, this could be a touchy subject: how lucky does the son of an international star such as Clint Eastwood really feel when he's out there trying to make a name for himself as a serious musician'
Especially when some of his best-known work to date ' such as part of the soundtrack to the movie Mystic River ' came to him via the film's director, one Clint Eastwood.
In the event, Kyle, is anything but touchy. Aside from his father's eyes and bone structure, he has also inherited Clint's unflappable, laidback demeanour. Casual but noticeably smart in his dark blue morning coat, slacks and natty black suede shoes, Kyle exudes the sort of politeness associated with well-to-do Californians: relaxed verging on distant.
He is so softly spoken you have to lean forward at times to catch what he's saying. And quite often, what he's saying turns out to be so impeccably polite and self-effacing ' along the lines of 'I just do what I do as well as I can' ' you find yourself idly yearning for some bratty one-liners. Which never show up.
'Obviously, it's a big last name,' Eastwood junior says. 'It opens some doors, and it also gives some people pre-conceived ideas about how little talent you have. But I haven't had any problems like that with other musicians.'
Problems of any kind don't appear to have featured greatly in Kyle's life to date. He grew up by the Pacific in the picture-postcard town of Carmel, where his famous dad was also mayor. Both parents were piano players and jazz fans. Kyle didn't take to the piano lessons but, because 'jazz was always playing in the house', he gravitated towards the muso set at his private prep school in Pebble Beach near Monterey.
They needed a bass player so he was given the job, teaching himself old Tamla Motown tunes at home by night as well as copying John Paul Jones' bass lines from Led Zeppelin II. He calls it 'my early bedroom schooling'. Having learned to read and write music and played on some movie soundtracks, seven years in Tinseltown proved a long haul.
So in 1996, he relocated to New York, which he found 'a really energising place to be', and hung out with the jazz crowd at a club called Smoke on 105th Street and Broadway. Three years later, he made From There to Here, an album for the Columbia label which included a guest appearance by Joni Mitchell and a cover of Marvin Gaye's Trouble Man. After a spell in Paris with his French-speaking wife Laura and their daughter Graylen, this November, Kyle Eastwood released his second album, Paris Blue, 'which is much more compositionally myself'.
It is in fact quite a family affair. He recorded it in his Parisian apartments and his father's guest house in LA. The album's title track is based around a piano piece nine-year-old Graylen came up with. The opener is a spirited reworking of an old novelty jazz hit, Big Noise, whose lead melody is whistled by, guess who' 'Dad has the 78 from the late 1940s. He played it to me about five years ago and said, 'You might wanna think about doing that'.' As many filmgoers know, Clint Eastwood's suggestions tend to get taken up.
Having re-scored the tune for horns, Kyle tried the whistling part himself, but in the end, 'dad made the cut. He did a better job.'
Chances are, however, that ' attractive as his new album is ' it won't reach as many ears as the other project Kyle has been working on recently. This is the soundbed to the trailer for Million Dollar Baby, a film by, oh dear, Clint Eastwood. Soundtracks, Kyle readily admits, can be creatively constricting: 'But dad usually just lets me go.'
His signature West Coast insouciance is now at full throttle. 'Anyway, I like working with him. I've grown up watching him work.'