Cyrus Chestnut offers his listeners joy, inspiration, and a different approach to some classic material on You Are My Sunshine. This recording differs from Soul Food, his 2001 chart-topper, in that he digs deeper into the blues, gospel, and jazz traditions. Chestnut also uses his influences in a collective arrangement rather than using each influence separately. For example, on "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," Chestnut alters this gospel piece to form a New Orleans sound. Instead of the meditative tempo the song is known for, he adds a Stevie Wonder harmonic influence on the interlude after the bass and piano to take the predictability out of the song. On "Errolling," he pays homage to the great pianist Erroll Garner. "Flipper" is a melody that offers fun and simplicity. Cyrus Chestnut is an excellent improviser, composer, arranger and pianist.
From his emergence in the mid-Eighties to the present, pianist Cyrus Chestnut has declared himself a committed stylist completely infatuated with his instrument and the art he’s sworn allegiance to, jazz. Chestnut has consistently shown himself an improviser of rare ingenuity and grace, yet what most distinguishes him from other gifted pianists of our era may be the sheer pleasure that radiates from all that he plays. While the characteristic cheer that Chestnut displays on "Natural Essence" can be attributed to his undiminished vigor and attentiveness, the presence of his notable cohorts also contributes to the leader’s focus. With the dynamic Lenny White on drums and the redoubtable Buster Williams on bass Cyrus & company breathe new life and vitality into that most venerable of jazz ensemble formats, the piano trio.
As with his previous effort, 2015's A Million Colors in Your Mind, pianist Cyrus Chestnut's second Highnote release, 2016's Natural Essence, finds him communing with two veteran artists for a deeply heartfelt and swinging session. Whereas last time Chestnut was joined by bassist David Williams and drummer Victor Lewis, here he has conscripted the talents of bassist Buster Williams and drummer Lenny White. Both Williams and White are industry icons with decades of playing experience and credits with such luminaries as Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Art Blakey, Woody Shaw, Tony Williams, McCoy Tyner, and many others.
Roughly 18 albums into his career, jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut delivers his HighNote record label debut with 2015's A Million Colors in Your Mind. With a title that borrows inspiration from a short story by Mexican author Maria Cristina Mena, the album finds Chestnut once again delving deep into his own colorfully chorded and swinging set of well-chosen cover songs.