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Bebop - Released August 31, 2018 | HighNote Records

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Pianist Cyrus Chestnut is a virtuoso player with deep roots in both spiritual gospel music and harmonically sophisticated jazz. That said, he's also a classically trained artist with a wide-ranging and eclectic taste in music. He brings all of these influences to bear on his nuanced and enveloping 2018 trio date, Kaleidoscope. Joining him are bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Chris Beck, who offer empathetic support throughout. Here, Chestnut has chosen a handful of his favorite classical compositions, including tracks by Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, and Maurice Ravel, which he reworks in his own inimitable jazz style, alongside other standards and his own originals. What's particularly compelling about his choices is just how well the classical songs fit into the jazz trio concept. The Satie selections in particular lend themselves to a jazz approach. Chestnut's languid reading of "Gymnopedie No. 1" has the feel of a hazy summer afternoon, and brings to mind Vince Guaraldi's Peanuts soundtracks. He also turns the composer's "Son Binocle" into a jauntily urbane bossa nova. Elsewhere, he transforms Debussy's "Jimbo's Lullaby" into a bluesy, far-eyed rumination, anchored by a soulful bass solo intro from Wheeler. Similarly engaging is the trio's dramatic, modal jazz take on Ravel's "Entre Cloches," in which Chestnut's spiraling solo swells into a sustained din of reverberating bass notes before returning to the main theme. Conversely, his own songs, like the meditative "Father Time" and the lyrical "Prayer for Claudine," evince a classical feel, displaying his knack for finely attenuated melodies and richly textured harmonics. He splits the difference on his swaggering version of Deep Purple's classic rock anthem "Smoke on the Water," diving into the iconic main theme with Rachmaninov-esque dynamism and then pulling back into a mutative, Eastern-influenced improvisation. ~ Matt Collar
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Jazz - Released March 22, 1996 | Atlantic Jazz

Cyrus Chestnut's third Atlantic CD continues to showcase his tremendous growth as a thought-provoking pianist and composer. "In the Garden" is an inspirational solo indicating his gospel roots. "East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)" proves his ability to create a novel trio arrangement of a standard tune covered by numerous musicians. The remaining tracks include a number of outstanding originals, especially the reflective "My Song in the Night" and the playful "Maria's Folly." ~ Ken Dryden
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Jazz - Released January 11, 1994 | Atlantic Jazz

On Revelation, Cyrus Chestnut offers 60 minutes of tasty, gospel- and blues-infused trio music. Both accessibility and virtuosity mark Chestnut's jazz playing, and his affinity for spirituals, hymns and down-home blues is evident in his emotional approach. He is fond of building momentum -- almost as if he were an evangelical preacher -- with repetitive and extended right-hand runs, and is most effective on the quicker, faster paced numbers. For this album, he is joined by Christopher J. Tomas (bass) and Clarence Penn (drums). The trio communicates well and swings hard. Nine of the 11 tracks on this, Chestnut's first release for Atlantic, are originals. Three of the album's best tracks are the bright, exciting "Elegie," the delicate solo vehicle, "Sweet Hour of Prayer" (backed only by Penn's brushes) and the pretty, original "Proverbial Lament." Many of the other tracks are played at faster tempos, none faster than "Macdaddy," on which he flexes his considerable chops. Revelation is a clean, enjoyable set led by a very promising young pianist. ~ Brian Bartolini
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Jazz - Released October 13, 2017 | Atlantic Records

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Jazz - Released February 16, 2010 | Atlantic Jazz

Joined by several important guests, Cyrus Chestnut proves once again that he is among the brightest, post-bop players of his generation. For this effort, his trio includes legends Ron Carter on bass and Billy Higgins on drums. Joining them are all-stars Lewis Nash (drums on two tracks), James Carter (alto on three tracks), Joe Lovano (tenor sax on two tracks), and two significant appearances by vocalist Anita Baker. This album is very good as well as very solid, with no tracks that clearly stand above the rest. Nash and Baker appear together on the album's only two standards: the slow, sexy "Summertime" and the bright, scat-filled "My Favorite Things." Carter's virtuoso brilliance dominates "Miss Thing" and "The Journey." Lovano contributes his unique intensity to "Any Way You Can" and joins Carter for the impressive two-horned workout "Sharp." As for the leader, he continues to demonstrate the rare ability to generate soul from the percussive piano. Though his versatility and technical facility is plainly evident, it is this emotional gift which sets him apart. He can play loud and fast; he has developed a lighter, more delicate touch on the ballads; he imparts elements of both blues and gospel in his sound; and he writes his own music. Cyrus Chestnut is recommended -- the album and the musician. ~ Brian Bartolini
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Bebop - Released May 20, 2016 | HighNote Records

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Jazz - Released October 16, 2001 | Warner Jazz

One thing one can say about this popular swinging trad jazz pianist -- he's definitely not selfish when it comes to passing the musical soul food around. The punchy, heavy-swaying eight-minute title track begins with a sizzling brass section and then Marcus Printup's thoughtful, several-minute trumpet solo, while Chestnut takes a supporting harmony role. "Brother With the Mint Green Vine" opens with a moody, dark chord foundation (very reminiscent of Joe Sample), but is largely fashioned as a duet between Chestnut's plucky ivories and Stefon Harris' whimsical vibes. Harris gets more solo time than his host. "Fantasia" has a classic trio sound in the Vince Guaraldi vein and is most memorable for Christian McBride's inventive upright bass solo over the soft brushes of Lewis Nash; Chestnut, of course, is at his elegant best, as he is on the one solo showcase he allows himself, a mournful rendition of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot." He shows off his improv skills most effectively on the free-for-all trio piece "Minor Funk." Just in case listeners should grow complacent that this is just another multifaceted jazz project, Chestnut tosses in a little musical humor with the peppy, horn-driven, New Orleans-styled "Brother Hawky Hawk." It's Chestnut's first album of original tunes since 1998, and he's back stronger than ever. ~ Jonathan Widran
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Jazz - Released October 25, 1996 | Atlantic Jazz

Cyrus Chestnut covers a wide range of hymns, carols and spirituals on this outstanding solo piano CD. A very dramatic "Holy, Holy, Holy" would inspire any congregation, while the rich voicings in "We Three Kings" are subtle yet moving. "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" is the most compelling track, with a thought-provoking arrangement that makes great use of space. ~ Ken Dryden
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Gospel - Released July 8, 2003 | Warner Bros.

Cyrus Chestnut offers his listeners joy, inspiration, and a different approach to some classic material on You Are My Sunshine. This recording differs from Soul Food, his 2001 chart-topper, in that he digs deeper into the blues, gospel, and jazz traditions. Chestnut also uses his influences in a collective arrangement rather than using each influence separately. For example, on "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," Chestnut alters this gospel piece to form a New Orleans sound. Instead of the meditative tempo the song is known for, he adds a Stevie Wonder harmonic influence on the interlude after the bass and piano to take the predictability out of the song. On "Errolling," he pays homage to the great pianist Erroll Garner. "Flipper" is a melody that offers fun and simplicity. Cyrus Chestnut is an excellent improviser, composer, arranger and pianist. With You Are My Sunshine, his virtuosity continues to shine just as radiantly. ~ Paula Edelstein
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Bebop - Released April 21, 2015 | HighNote Records

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Jazz - Released January 24, 1995 | Atlantic Jazz

Cyrus Chestnut's The Dark Before the Dawn is a mature, versatile album. Chestnut and his trio members -- Steve Kirby (bass) and Clarence Penn (drums) -- provide their fortunate listeners with a little bit of everything on this collection. Chestnut pays homage to John Coltrane, and his brilliant "Giant Steps," on the lightning fast "Steps of Trane," and gives J.S. Bach a swinging, 21st century twist on the interesting "Baroque Impressions." "My Funny Valentine" is slow and spacious and represents Chestnut's best ballad playing to date. Mix in originals such as the confident "Sentimentalia," the pretty "The Mirrored Window," the playful "Call Me Later" and the show-stopping "Kattin'." Kirby lays down a rock-solid musical foundation and Penn generates the rhythmic fire, but it is Chestnut who breathes life and soul and meaning into these tunes. He has the unique ability to make complicated music both approachable and enjoyable. The listener won't realize it, but will eventually notice their toes tapping and their fingers snapping to this recommended set. ~ Brian Bartolini
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Bebop - Released September 22, 2017 | HighNote Records

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Jazz - Released October 9, 2007 | eOne Music