Cyrus Chestnut is an artist - one of the foremost in his chosen field of jazz. So when the urge hit to record a set of songs made famous by Elvis Presley, he opened that door, looked down the road that opened behind it, and followed that road all the way to the recording studio. He emerged with Cyrus Plays Elvis, the most conceptually daring release of his career. In October, Cyrus Chestnut will be in New York City for the following events: an in-store performance on Tuesday, October 9 at noon (the release date for Cyrus Plays Elvis) at J&R Music, Park Row; and a trio concert for Cyrus Plays Elvis on Saturday, October 13, 8pm at Columbia University's Miller Theatre.
About Cyrus Plays Elvis, Chestnut states: "First, I had to connect with the music, which I was able to do. Then, once connected to it, I could move forward and come up with an intelligent line I could follow to tell the story of this music. That led me to realize that Elvis was unique. As a person, he created his own phenomenon. And as a singer, he told his story using music he felt good about."
Chestnut and his trio - bassist Dezron L. Douglas and drummer Neal Smith, with guest appearances on several tracks by saxophonist Mark Gross - take these basics through different landscapes of imagination and toward vistas where communion rather than imitation can take place.
The exceptional pianist and composer was trained through childhood performances at the Mount Calvary Star Baptist Church in his home town of Baltimore, schooled at the prestigious Peabody Institute and Berklee School, and seasoned through work with Betty Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Jon Hendricks, Branford and Wynton Marsalis, operatic superstar Kathleen Battle, and dozens of other luminaries. His catalog of albums is asterisked with awards from the world's leading jazz publications.