Sunday, August 16, 2009

ROOT MUSIC

I still yearn for the old days, Cyrus, although I admire your new solo album “Spirit”. I admit I grew accustom to you as a swinger. I’ve expressed to you before how much I love your earlier albums you made for Atlantic Records years before they closed their jazz division. After experiencing “Revelation” and the “The Dark before the Dawn”, I became a devout fan, and I introduce my friends to your work. Musically you could do no wrong.

Two years ago, however, I did something I never imagine I would do. I trashed your albums “Genuine Chestnut” and “Cyrus Chestnut Plays Elvis”. The latter recording I genuinely hated. I wondered why you bothered to make such an album. Did you set out to establish a connection between jazz and the kind of pop music Presley made? I consulted some friends, but they could not help. They enjoyed the album.

With your new album, it appears you are trying to find your way back to the Cyrus Chestnut of old. Honestly, although “Spirit” is a sound date, which I would recommend, it doesn’t compare to some of your other albums.I wondered if “Spirit” would have been a great album instead of just a good one if you’d written more original gospel songs such as “Gospel Improv #1”, which is the best selection on the album.

“Spirit” show is you’re still a virtuoso jazz pianist, especially on selections such as “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “Oh How I Love Jesus”. Although I occasionally questioned your motives, I never thought your skills were slipping.

I like your improvisation on “I Surrender All” and “Old Time Religion”. You strayed from the manner in which these staples were intended to be performed, but you didn’t get too carried away. It was creative how you literally transformed “Come Sunday” into a blues tune. No pun intended, on this album, you played as if the spirit hit you throughout this the album.
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