155

Cyrus Chestnut: Genuine Chestnut

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
Cyrus Chestnut: Genuine Chestnut One hardly thinks of age six as the start of a career in anything, but that's when pianist Cyrus Chestnut began his. As was the case with many musicians and singers, the church was his first gig. He played at Mount Calvary Baptist in Baltimore, and within three years, he was studying classical music at the Peabody Institute. Over the years, a variety of training and experiences led him to jazz. He worked alongside some modern jazz heavyweights like Terence Blanchard, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea and Dizzy Gillespie, as well as vocalists Joe Williams and Betty Carter. Chestnut also has won numerous awards, including the Oscar Peterson and Quincy Jones scholarships, and The Basie Award.

After years as a sideman, Chestnut became a leader, releasing his first album, There's a Brighter Day Comin', then The Nutman Speaks, The Nutman Speaks Again and Nut. Throughout his career, he's blended some straightforward jazz with covers of pop tunes, all in his own unique style. The foundation holds with his Telarc debut, Genuine Chestnut.

The album begins with the delightful "The Brown Soldier. In addition to Chestnut's piano, the song highlights Russell Malone's guitar, with nods to Michael Hawkins on bass and Neal Smith on drums. As Chestnut explains, the song is about being a jazz soldier, playing day to day and putting a smile on someone's face with music. Hawkins' bass makes that seem easy as he sets up Malone's guitar solo. The third track, "If, features Malone and Chestnut in a tranquil cover of the popular hit by Bread. With subtle notes by Hawkins and drummer Neal Smith, the song has a traditional jazz feel.

A hint of samba appears in "Ellen's Song, an original ballad. Chestnut honors tradition but delves in originality as well. A stop-time beat introduces "Mason Dixon Line, a high-energy piece that highlights Smith's pacing on the cymbals while Chestnut and Hawkins go for a ride. Percussionist Steve Kroon adds a Latin flavor to the playful "Baby Girl's Strut. Smith gets a bit more freedom on this one as he complements the leader.

The elegant "Eyes on the Prize is the first of three inspirational pieces. While playing as a group, each musician charts his own course on this expression of freedom. And setting up the closer, "Lord, I Give Myself to You, Chestnut and his sidemen deliver a delightful cover of Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin', which features Malone.

When Cyrus Chestnut plays, it's often difficult to tell which genre he's in, which is a good thing. Blending contemporary jazz, traditional jazz and gospel, plus the occasional seasonings of Latin and samba, he gives himself plenty of freedom to explore different emotions, while keeping the music in recognizable form. Add to that his apparent ease on the piano, and you've got a musician who really does know how to put a smile on your face. In listening to Genuine Chestnut, one gets the sense that he's smiling, too.


Track Listing: The Brown Soldier; El Numero Tres; If; Ellens Song; The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face; Eyes on the Prize; Through the Valley; Im Walkin; Lord, I Give Myself to You.

Personnel: Cyrus Chestnut, piano; Michael Hawkins, bass; Neal Smith, drums; Russell Malone, guitar; Steven Kroon, percussion.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Telarc Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Panola County Spirit" CD/LP/Track Review Panola County Spirit
by James Nadal
Published: March 4, 2016
Read "Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review Volume 1
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Beam Me Up" CD/LP/Track Review Beam Me Up
by Dave Wayne
Published: April 21, 2016
Read "Sharpener" CD/LP/Track Review Sharpener
by Nick Davies
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "Sunkissed" CD/LP/Track Review Sunkissed
by Jeff Winbush
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift" CD/LP/Track Review Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 14, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!