Cyrus Chestnut: My Father’s Hands review – like Oscar Peterson at his peak | Jazz

Jhe Baltimore-born Cyrus Chestnut is a wonderful pianist, much like Oscar Peterson in his heyday: one of the few who doesn’t always try to impress you. He doesn’t need to try. Now close to fifty, he has been playing since, as a small child, he watched his father’s hands “in a passionate relationship with the piano”. Her father, McDonald, who performed in Baptist churches and was her first teacher, died last year. This album is dedicated to his memory.

Among Chestnut’s many appealing points is his penchant for melody. These 10 titles are full of songs, some composed by him, some already well known, and some that arise during playback. His own pieces, especially Thinking About You and Working Out Just Fine, are really attractive and catchy numbers. Of the standards here, But Beautiful, while short, is exactly what its title suggests. Yesterday, very slow with a lot of space, some soft harmonic changes and some tinkling phrases evoking birdsong, it’s quite magical. It’s the pianist’s show, of course, but with Peter Washington and Lewis Nash, he has one of the best bass and drum teams in the world.

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