Cyrus Chestnut

There's a Sweet Sweet Spirit

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Cyrus Chestnut's 2016 effort, the superb Natural Essence, benefitted greatly from his pairing with the duo of bassist Buster Williams and drummer Lenny White. Thankfully, the pianist has followed up with another engaging set featuring the same veteran luminaries. An adept virtuoso talent, Chestnut soars alongside Williams and White on 2017's There's a Sweet Sweet Spirit. Elder jazz statesmen, Williams and White have decades of experience under their hats with credits for such legends as Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Art Blakey, Woody Shaw, and many others. Similarly, Chestnut has worked with such luminaries as Terence Blanchard, Betty Carter, Wynton Marsalis, and more. While all of his albums are worth checking out, there is something inspired and kinetic about his playing with Williams and White, as if they are all three pushing each other to discover new avenues of expression. Joining them this time on several tracks is yet another volcanic talent in vibraphonist Steve Nelson. Though he only appears on three cuts, his warm harmonic resonance contrasts beautifully with Chestnut's as they dig into an expansive late-'60s jazz sound on two of vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson's best-known compositions, "Little B's Poem" and "The Littlest One of All." Away from Nelson, Chestnut displays his genre-bending skills on "Chopin Prelude," transfiguring the classical piece first with a cubist Thelonious Monk-style intro and later with a swinging Ellingtonian mid-section. Similarly compelling are the group's muscular and exotic take on Miles Davis' "Nardis" and a spritely reading of Williams' "Christina." Elsewhere, they deliver a languid and romantic take on the Stylistics' 1973 classic "You Make Me Feel Brand New," and dive headlong into the pianist's own Latin-infused "CDC." Ultimately, if there's one overriding sentiment that drives all of There's a Sweet Sweet Spirit, it's Chestnut and his band's spirit of soulful camaraderie.

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