Saturday, January 27, 2018

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Spotlight on Cyrus Chestnut

This week, our video spotlight is focused on pianist Cyrus Chestnut, who will be back in town next week with his trio to perform from Wednesday, January 31 through Saturday, February 3 at Jazz at the Bistro.

Chestnut, who last played St. Louis in May 2016 at The Sheldon, is in some ways a stylistic throwback as a pianist. At 55 years old, the Baltimore native is of the right generation to have been influenced by the major jazz pianists most prominent in the 1960s and 70s, such as Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett, but his playing more often evokes that of older generations of piano players.

For example, Oscar Peterson, and by extension, Art Tatum clearly are points of reference for Chestnut, as his prodigious technique allows him to execute the same sorts of split-second chromatic digressions and flourishes they often deployed.

Listening to some of Chestnut's solo work, it's also possible to hear echoes of Erroll Garner, Earl Hines, Teddy Wilson, and others whose careers bridged the swing and bebop eras, albeit filtered through a contemporary sensibility.

You can get an idea of how Chestnut plays in a trio setting in the first video up above, which is a full set of him with drummer Victor Lewis and bassist Buster Williams, recorded in September 2016 at public radio station WBGO's Yamaha Piano Salon in New York City.

After the jump, you can see Chestnut playing solo, starting with a version of "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" from the 2017 Vitoria-Gasteiz Jazz Festival in Spain.

Below that, there's a solo mini-set recorded in June 2016 for Kansas Public Radio, starting with "I've Never Been In Love Before," continuing with a version of Vince Guaraldi's "Skating" from A Charlie Brown Christmas and wrapping up with "Tea for Two."

The last three videos all were made in June 2016 in the studios KNKX in Tacoma, WA, and feature Chestnut playing "It Could Happen To You," "The Door of No Return," and "I Cover the Waterfront."

For more about Cyrus Chestnut, check out his video interview from last September with the web series The Pace Report, and his interview from earlier in 2017 with Time Out Israel.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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