Virtuosic and playful, pianist Cyrus Chestnut’s hard swinging, soulful sounds 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.
His “lush chords, playful grace notes, worshipful tremolos and effortless runs up and down the 88s” are sure to impress, but it’s his warm demeanor and irresistible sweetness that make him “one of jazz’s most beloved ambassadors.”
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, recording and performing live 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.
So far, 2014 has seen several great accomplishments for Cyrus. This July he released his first live album, Midnight Melodies, recorded at the legendary Smoke Jazz Club, and joined by bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Victor Lewis, two veterans of the John Hicks Trio. Together they take listeners on a musical odyssey that includes music by Billy Strayhorn, John Coltrane, and, of course, John Hicks, like the album’s penultimate masterpiece, “Naima’s Love Song.”
Cyrus has also entered a three year recording deal with Highnote Records, with his first release due in early 2015, and, in addition, received a well-deserved invitation to join the educational team of Howard University as their instructor of jazz piano.
"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..."
Jazz St. Louis is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to lead our community in advancing the uniquely American art of jazz through live performance, education and community engagement.