Cyrus Chestnut

Cyrus Chestnut ( born January 17, 1963 in Baltimore, Maryland ) is an American jazz and gospel and classical pianist.


Chestnut received his first piano lessons from his father and played at the age of seven years of piano in the Mount Calvary Star Baptist Church in his hometown. He attended the Peabody Institute and studied from 1981 to 1985 jazz composition and arranging at Berklee College of Music. There he received the Eubie Blake membership in 1982, the Oscar Peterson Scholarship 1983, the Quincy Jones Scholarship in 1984. He taught music history at, studied the works of jazz master pianists such as Bud Powell, Wynton Kelly and Hank Jones, and the work of gospel artists such as Clara Ward Charles Taylor, and Shirley Caesar. He studied classical music, composition and performance practice. *

He worked as a sideman with such musicians as Donald Harrison, Terence Blanchard, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Branford Marsalis, Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie, George Adams, James Moody, Jon Hendricks, Joe Williams, and in the band of Betty Carter.

Since the early 1990s, he released albums as a bandleader and as a soloist ( "Blessed Quietness ", 1996). on Atlantic Records and the Japanese label Alfa Jazz. During his plate projects he has worked with musicians such as Christian McBride, James Carter, Joe Lovano, Ron Carter, Billy Higgins, Gary Bartz, Stefon Harris and Lewis Nash.

In addition, he has performed in groups such as the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra and appeared in Robert Altman's film Kansas City with.

Music and personality

Chestnut has a religious belief in its kind, the church gives him the power of music ". From an early age, the church presents itself to me with everything she represents, and the music that fulfills this message to life "

"I take this gift for music is not easy. I take it very seriously. I want to be able to do something with this gift, what people erect in their experiences. The more people I reach the more I think I did my job right. "

Chestnut remarked as to National Public Radio ( NPR): "If I leave after a gig someone home and he feels better than before, then I 've done my job."

The Philadelphia Inquirer explains: Chestnut gives more pleasure to a single note than do other pianists with handfuls of chords.

The New York Times described him as highly intelligent improviser with the safest feeling for swing.

Chestnut has developed a reputation for its ingenious versatility, its ability to blend sounds and unafraid to bring Gospel in the performances. He takes the jazz seriously and credited him with much endurance. Just like Bruce Springsteen has the ability to reach a large audience, I have an idea of ​​the jazz that he can do the same. One can not underestimate the power of this music. "Said Chestnut to Petersburg Times.

In 1991 he was given a chance with the Betty Carter Trio to work when they went for two years on tour, he referred to this as other pianists, as a kind of senior year. " She was expecting from you a form for creation to create, not to relax. "

In 1995 Chestnut on the Orpernsängerin Kathleen Battle. She joined a similar experience from the church, which enhancing co- operation. " One day, she began to sing a hymn of praise in the studio. I immediately knew what she sang and for a minute we were back in a small Baptist church with a wooden floor and a small piano. "

Chestnut would like to highlight the improvisational nature of jazz and any time to capture the individual expression of music.

Chestnut used Gospel runs, slides ( growls ) and chord diagrams of the Gospel, not so that it remembers in a jazz piece to a Gospel or a rhythm and blues pieces, but as kompositiorisches element promotes the intent of the overall piece.


  • The Nutman speaks, Alfa Jazz 1992
  • The Nutman speaks again, Alfa Jazz 1992
  • Groove, 1992
  • Another Direction, 1993
  • Revalation, 1993
  • Dark Before the Dawn, 1994
  • Earth Stories, 1995
  • Blessed Quietness, 1996
  • Cyrus Chestnut, 1998
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas, 2000
  • Soul Food, 2001
  • You Are My Sunshine, 2003
  • Genuine Chestnut, 2006