Seasonal Piano Pianist Cyrus Chestnut is the latest of jazz artists to release a solo piano holidays disc. Other recent and notable examples include Dave Brubeck's Christmas (Teldec 83410), Marcus Robert's Prayer for Peace (Novus 63124), and Dave McKenna's Christmas Ivory (Concord 4772). For y entertainment dollar, this Chestnut Disc and the McKenna disc are running in a dead heat.
Like all who apprentice in a Marsalis band, Cyrus Chestnut has talent steeped in the older traditions of gospel, swing, and stride piano. This disc reminded me much of the recent repackaging of Monk's solo Columbia sides. Chestnut plays a good bit of this disc in an easy loping stride. He parts with Marcus Roberts in his performance by having a relaxed and confident ride with the music as opposed to abject reverence of Roberts. His choice of material differs form others in that he restricts himself to hymns and religious carols. The stand out pieces of the disc is a Lisztian "Holy, Holy, Holy" and a boogie woogie "What a Friend We have in Jesus." A super seasonal offering from a splendid pianist.
Track Listing: Over My Head; Jesus Loves Me; We three Kings; Walk With Me Jesus; Silent Night; amazing Grace; The Old Rugged Cross; Holy, Holy, Holy; The First Noel; Blessed Quietness; What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.