Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cyrus Chestnut rocks the suburbs

I'm just back from the Chestnut concert. The venue was really great for jazz, 200 seats, well laid out, every seat had a great, close view. Nice acoustics, professionals at the sound board and on lighting. Chestnut was great. Really great. He's amazing.

His trio---the drummer, the bass? Man---they were distractingly not up to par. The drummer was a capable guy, you could see that, but he was always kind of hot-dogging, in my opinion. Over-playing his role. But you could see that he was talented. In addition, at any time he wasn't playing, he was fooling with his kit, adjusting his cymbals, moving his sticks and brushes around, making noise all the while. At one point, he was drumming on his leg waiting for his entrance.

The bass player was adequate. I think he has no idea how much more he could have added to the music. I kept wanting him to let loose. I kept thinking about how Lyman would be working it.

So the bass player DID finally let loose. Guess when? Apparently Chestnut is working on an album of jazz interpretations of the "Elvis Presley songbook". He played four numbers from it. Very formulaic: begin with introduction of familiar melody, some minor riffing (because this is jazz, eh?) and then cut loose without particular regard to much besides the key of the song; I liked those parts, wind down, remind the audience of the melody; close. I don't think I'm going to be looking for that one at Amazon. But Chestnut closed the show with a beautiful ballad which he didn't name, followed by his rendition of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" from Genuine Chestnut. And I will say: the drummer did a beautiful and perfectly understated job on this one number. He got it just right.

I'm sorry to say it, but the sidemen took away from the show for me. I would have been happier to hear him solo. I've purposely not named them because they don't need me to run them down but I think both of those guys should be looking for other gigs where their talents might be more inspired....

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