by Willard Manus
The piano virtuoso Cyrus Chestnut is back with his 16th CD, JOURNEYS--THE CYRUS CHESTNUT TRIO (Dezron Douglas, bass; Neal Smith, drums). Known for his skill at turning gospel tunes into jazz, but above all for his dazzling right hand, Chestnut (who was recent Grammy-winning Dee Dee Bridgewater's accompanist for many years) shows off his trademark technique--and compositional gifts--on JOURNEYS. Nine of the CD's ten tunes are Chestnut originals; the only cover is Rodgers & Hart's Lover.
Chestnut's effervescent chords and dramatic intensity are very much on display here, especially on Little John and Goliath, but he also balances these uptempo numbers with the quiet and introspective Journeys and The Flowers on the Terrace. On the latter Chestnut plays over a light Latin beat, often just vamping behind Douglas's acoustic bass soloing, then suddenly jumping in and taking over with surprising two-handed force and passion.
JOURNEYS is a moving and rewarding CD--contemporary trio-jazz at its best. (Jazzlegacyproductions.com)