Jazz Album of the Week: A Kaleidoscope of Styles with Cyrus Chestnut

Oct 15, 2018

October 15, 2018. Pianist Cyrus Chestnut has always been known for swinging us right to church. On Kaleidoscope, he does a bit of that, but mostly adds his touch to the work of classical composers. Bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Chris Beck help to identify the different styles Chestnut tackles on this album.

This isn’t the first time Cyrus Chestnut has dabbled in the world of classical compositions – his 2014 release Moonlight Sonata: Swingin’ Classics was full of familiar classical repertoire. Kaleidoscope visits some places that aren’t as widely celebrated, like 19th century France, where Erik Satie was composing the “Gymnopedies.” Chestnut’s smooth and seamless playing makes the improvisation feel welcome on “Gymnopedie No. 1” and “Gymnopedie No. 3.”

Chestnut delves into some Mozart with “Turkish Rondo,” where you can really hear Wheeler and Beck guide the piece from a samba to a march in a very swingin’ manner. There are also strong nods to Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, but it all sounds like jazz.

It’s no surprise that “Darn That Dream” makes an appearance, as standards and Cyrus tend to go hand-in-hand, but the inclusion of a Deep Purple tune is a head scratcher at first- until you hear it. Apparently this very trio performed it on a whim at a date in Melbourne, Australia and the crowd went wild. This fun version of “Smoke on the Water” is classic Chestnut, and it’s a great way to contrast the classical Chestnut who still swings on this record.