Man! “Revelation” was remarkable. I played “Blues for Nita” and “Cornbread Pudding,” the best cuts on the album, so many times I could recite the chord progressions in my sleep. You had your piano aching, man. Then in 2001, I saw you in concert in Flint, Mi.
It was the first time I experienced you live in the flesh. It was the same year you released “Soul Food” that had those swingers of your generation saxophonist James Carter, trumpeter Mark Printup, vibist Stefon Harris, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and bassist Christian McBride. God could not have assembled a better lineup. Anyway, I attended that concert in Flint with a friend. In the late 90’s, I turned her on to your music.
I loaned her “Earth Stories” and “Blessed Quietness”. She immediately fell for you. (By the way, she never returned those albums.) During the concert in Flint, she recited the titles of every tune from the “Soul Food” album you performed that night. Get this, she also knew the order the tunes appeared on the album.
I have to admit, I’m reluctant to tell her about your latest album “Cyrus Plays Elvis”. Cyrus, I have to be real it left a bad taste in my mouth. And I have a bunch of questions I need answered.
First, why did you select Elvis’ music? Secondly, what is the King’s connection to jazz? Did the executives at Koch, your new record label, force you to record these erstwhile pop tunes? Most importantly, how do I explain this sudden shift in your music to my friend?
Should I tell her you have become more focused on piling up album sales and you’re less concerned with making good albums such “Dark Before the Dawn” and “You Are My Sunshine”? Or Should I tell her you are just going through a phase where your creative well has run dry?
I'm going to remain a devout fan because, over the years, your music has given me so much pleasure. I believe you will get it together soon. I got my fingers crossed.