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Cyrus Chestnut – Natural Essence – HighNote

Cyrus Chestnut – Natural Essence – HighNote HCD 7283, 63:10 ****:

This is a delightfully invigorating trio session.

(Cyrus Chestnut – piano; Buster Williams – bass; Lenny White – drums)

Cyrus Chesnut’s musical demeanour is a combination of soulful and probing. In his latest release for HighNote Records entitled Natural Essence, he and his cohorts bassist Buster Williams and drummer Lenny White, confirm that their similar ideas and personality make for a session that the listener will find clearly appealing.

The recital’s opening track is the Joe Henderson funkaloo number “Mamacita” on which the band finds a groove that they rock out with brio as each member struts his stuff. Chestnut has always had an affinity with spiritually-based music. His own composition “Faith Amongst The Unknown” falls into this bedrock in a supple yet assertive way.

“I Cover The Waterfront” was written in 1933 by Johnny Green and Edward Heyman  and was inspired by the 1932 book of the same name by Max Miller. Since that time, the tune has been covered by many artists including Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. Chestnut and the trio take the tune at a sprightly pace grounded by the pianist’s impeccable touch.

Drummer Lenny White and bassist Buster Williams each contribute an original composition to the album with the former’s “Dedication” and the latter “Toku-Do”. Perhaps unexpectedly White’s number is a ballad in which his feather light brush work is prominently featured supporting Chestnut’s bright and emotional playing. The Williams piece opens with a strong bass line from the composer, and then segues into a nimble romp.

The finale is Gigi Gryce’s “Minority” a bop favourite that charges out of the gate with the strong theme expertly framed by Chesnut’s  combustible inventiveness and forceful note-striking. Bassist Williams offers a deep-toned insightful solo mid-way through, followed by drummer White and Chestnut providing several crashing exchanges.

This is a delightfully invigorating trio session.

TrackList: Mamacita; It Could Happen To You; Faith Amongst The Unknown; I Cover The Waterfront; I Remember; Dedication; My Romance; Toku-Do; Minority

—Pierre Giroux

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