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Virtuosic and playful, pianist Cyrus Chestnut produces hard-swinging, soulful sounds that have become a staple in the jazz community. Blending contemporary jazz, traditional jazz, and gospel, plus the occasional seasonings of Latin and samba, Chestnut gives himself plenty of freedom to explore different emotions, while keeping his 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.
Chestnut has played with many leaders in the music scene, including Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Branford Marsalis, Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie, Jon Hendricks, and Betty Carter. He has recorded and performed live all around the world.
An extremely versatile pianist, Chestnut has also collaborated with Vanessa Williams, Brian McKnight, Kathleen Battle, Freddy Cole, Bette Midler, Jimmy Scott, Isaac Hayes, and Kevin Mahogany. His leadership and prowess as a soloist has led him to be a first call for the piano chair in big bands, including the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, and Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra.
The pianist Cyrus Chestnut is one of jazz’s most convincing anachronisms. His brand of crisp articulation and blues-inflected harmony evokes another era, sometime before the ascent of Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner, to say nothing of Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett. But unlike the typical nostalgist, who pines for the past partly because of a queasy discomfort with the present, Mr. Chestnut appears comfortable with his placement in time. What makes his music fly is a complete security in his style, and that sense of untroubled self-assurance.
—New York Times
His brand of crisp articulation and blues inflected harmony evokes another era . . . multifaceted and dynamic . . . Mr. Chestnut was the evening’s star and he brought charisma to the role.