Saturday night at the Bellevue Jazz Festival was a special treat of Cyrus Chestnut Trio with Stefon Harris. I love to watch Cyrus play and this trio was really good, but when Stefon Harris came out and joined them it was a whole new ball game. Cyrus Chestnut on Piano, Eric Wheeler on Bass, Evan Sherman on Drums, Stefon Harris on Vibes.
Virtuosic and playful, pianist Cyrus Chestnut’s hard swinging, soulful sounds have become a staple in the jazz community. Blending contemporary jazz, traditional jazz and gospel, plus the occasional seasonings of Latin and samba, Chestnut gives himself plenty of freedom to explore different emotions, while keeping his music in recognizable form.
Chestnut has played with many leaders in the music scene including Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Branford Marsalis, Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie, Jon Hendricks, and Betty Carter, recording and performing live around the world. An extremely versatile pianist, Chestnut has also collaborated with Vanessa Williams, Brian McKnight, Kathleen Battle, Freddy Cole, Bette Midler, Jimmy Scott, Isaac Hayes, and Kevin Mahogany. His leadership and prowess as a soloist has also led him to be a first call pianist in larger ensembles including the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, and Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra.
Chestnut’s new album, Journeys, is his most compelling to date. His compositions are more mature than ever. Drawing from all facets of his life experiences, the result is a very unique musical journey for all to enjoy. Almost 20 years into his impressive career, Chestnut is further developing his musical voice: lyrical, timeless, and always deeply.
Vibraphonist-composer Stefon Harris is heralded as “one of the most important young artists in jazz” (The Los Angeles Times). He is unquestionably developing what will be a long and extraordinary career.
Harris’ passionate artistry, energetic stage presence, and astonishing virtuosity have propelled him into the forefront of the current jazz scene. Widely recognized and lauded by both his peers and jazz critics alike, he is committed to both exploring the rich potential of jazz composition and blazing new trails on the vibraphone.
His 2004 project Blackout, featuring a hybrid of acoustic music and progressive sounds, was praised for “pursing jazz on its own terms” (Washington Post), and was taken on tour to perform to sold out crowds at The Kennedy Center and North Sea Jazz Festival.
In addition to leading his own band, Mr. Harris has recorded as part of The Classical Jazz Quartet, a series of jazz interpreted classics with Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, and Lewis Nash. He has also recorded and toured with many of music’s greatest artists, including Joe Henderson, Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson, Buster Williams, Kenny Barron, Charlie Hunter, Kurt Elling, Cyrus Chestnut, Steve Coleman, and Steve Turre among many others.