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The Dark Before the Dawn

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Album Review

Cyrus Chestnut's The Dark Before the Dawn is a mature, versatile album. Chestnut and his trio members — Steve Kirby (bass) and Clarence Penn (drums) — provide their fortunate listeners with a little bit of everything on this collection. Chestnut pays homage to John Coltrane, and his brilliant "Giant Steps," on the lightning fast "Steps of Trane," and gives J.S. Bach a swinging, 21st century twist on the interesting "Baroque Impressions." "My Funny Valentine" is slow and spacious and represents Chestnut's best ballad playing to date. Mix in originals such as the confident "Sentimentalia," the pretty "The Mirrored Window," the playful "Call Me Later" and the show-stopping "Kattin'." Kirby lays down a rock-solid musical foundation and Penn generates the rhythmic fire, but it is Chestnut who breathes life and soul and meaning into these tunes. He has the unique ability to make complicated music both approachable and enjoyable. The listener won't realize it, but will eventually notice their toes tapping and their fingers snapping to this recommended set.


Born: 17 January 1963 in Baltimore, MD

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

An adept jazz pianist, Cyrus Chestnut balances his lithe technical skill with a robust, soulful style that speaks to his deep gospel roots and love of swinging hard bop. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Chestnut first studied piano with his father at the age of five, with official lessons beginning two years later. By the age of nine, he was enrolled in the prep program at the Peabody Institute. He graduated from Berklee with a degree in jazz composition and arranging. Chestnut took his time, working...
Full bio
The Dark Before the Dawn, Cyrus Chestnut
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  • Partial Album
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Contemporary Jazz
  • Released: 24 January 1995

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