Saturday, April 03, 2010

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Spotlight on Cyrus Chestnut

Today, our video spotlight is trained on pianist Cyrus Chestnut, who's returning to St. Louis next Saturday, April 10 for a performance at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Chestnut has played here a number of times before, most recently in March 2008 at Jazz at the Bistro. On this trip, he'll be doing music from his 2007 CD Cyrus Plays Elvis which, as the name suggests, presents jazz interpretations of songs associated with Elvis Presley.

Alas, there seem to be no readily available online videos of Chestnut performing Presley material, but you can hear some samples from Cyrus Plays Elvis on the CD's Amazon page.

In the meantime, we've got three other clips for you that nicely demonstrate Chestnut's considerable skills. First up is a version of Charlie Parker's "Yardbird Suite" that's a good example of how what was conceived originally as an ensemble piece can be translated effectively into into a piano solo.

Down below, Chestnut goes back a bit further into jazz history for an untitled solo blues that incorporates some stride piano techniques. Below that, you can see an excerpt from a performance by Chestnut, bassist Dezron Douglass and drummer Neal Smith at the 2008 Litchfield Jazz Festival in Litchfield, CT.

UPDATE - 4/5/10, 11:10 a.m.: The weekend Post-Dispatch had a preview story by Calvin Wilson about the Chestnut concert that also includes some broader thoughts about jazz players doing pop material. You can read it online here.

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