Every Note Lives

Cyrus Chestnut is the kind of player who can make you forget everything and feel really good, deep down. Framed by the twinkling Central Park skyline at Dizzy’s in Manhattan, he captures the audience before he even plays a note. As with his playing, his voice resonates even in his most soft-spoken tenor: Like a skilled preacher, he doesn’t have to break pianissimo to get your attention. It’s so easy to listen to him — whether at the piano or between sets — that it’s hard not to imagine making music is just as easy. Here’s a guy who started playing the piano at three, who was playing in his family’s church at six, and who has worked closely with Jon Hendricks, Terence Blanchard, Donald Henderson, Wynton Marsalis, and Betty Carter. But when Cyrus talks about the mechanism behind his unmistakable craft, a common image emerges: a weight-lifting room.
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