Friday, July 11, 2014

Cyrus Chestnut Midnight Melodies Smoke Sessions 2014

Cyrus Chestnut simply nails his first ever live recording!

Brent Black /

Cyrus Chestnut taps into the John Hicks influence that has shaped his career with Midnight Melodies creating that all important historical link from mentor to friend. Similar to Chestnut, the Betty Carter School of Improvisational thought plays an important roll with the great Victor Lewis on drums and highly respected Curtis Lundy on bass. This is the soundtrack of a city that never sleeps!

Standout tracks are plentiful in this live set recorded over two nights at the legendary Smoke Jazz Club. The John Hicks tune "Two Heartbeats" opens the release. An exquisite tune that sets the harmonic table for what it about to unfold. "Bags Groove" raises the ensemble from trio to improvisational collective. A blues with a conversational swing. You feel swing, it can't be taught. Chestnut involves all of musical co-conspirators in a lyrical give and take that is perhaps the gem of the release. "Giant Steps" moves to the beat of a different drummer approaching a burner yet there is enough firepower and finesse on the stage to manipulate the dynamics to an almost soulful and soul filled approach.

With additional compositions such as "Chelsea Bridge" and the stellar Chestnut original "To Be Determined" there is very little to elaborate on. This is not a pianist with two afterthoughts. This is an improvisational ensemble that understands the chain is only as strong as the weakest link.

No weak links here!

Tracks: Two Heartbeats; Pocket Full of Blues; To Be Determined; Bag's Groove; Hey, It's Me You're Talking To; Chelsea Bridge; U.M.M.G; I Wanted To Say; Giant Steps; Naima's Love Song; The Theme.
Personnel: Cyrus Chestnut: Piano; Curtis Lundy: Bass; Victor Lewis: Drums