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Holiday Jazz with Cyrus Chestnut Trio
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Holiday Jazz with Cyrus Chestnut Trio

- Jazz and Cabaret Corner

Holiday Jazz with Cyrus Chestnut Trio
Cyrus Chestnut on Piano
(Cyrus Chestnut Website)
Special Guest: Donald Harrison on Alto Saxophone
Michael Hawkins on Bass
Neal Smith on Drums
Todd Barkin, Host
(After Hours, John Hicks on Piano)

Frederick P. Rose Hall
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola
Time/Warner Center
Broadway at 60th Street
(Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola Website)

Scott Thompson, Press

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 25, 2004

Cyrus Chestnut was a Holiday delight, creating a toasty warm ambiance in the cool, new Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, part of Frederick P. Rose Hall at the elegant Time/Warner Center at Columbus Circle. This Club is hosted by Todd Barkin, Jazz Producer, and they serve salads, sandwiches, drinks, and desserts. You can sit at the bar with a great view of the stage, or you can sit at a bistro table and enjoy some of the finest jazz musicians to appear in New York. Sight lines are great all around in a red/black/teakwood design. Table candles are like bursting bells of light.

Cyrus Chestnut’s second set for Christmas began with My Miss Lucy from Charlie Brown fame. It was quite charming, disarming, and swinging, with Neal Smith, drummer, practically dancing as he played. Smith’s cymbals lent a smooth, sensuous feel to the next piece, with abstract, melancholy elements. Hope Song, with Michael Hawkins on bass and Donald Harrison on sax, was mellow and meaningful. A spiritual was next, brief and soulful, followed by a spontaneous work with lengthy percussive riffs. Harrison’s sax was intense and significantly featured, followed by Chestnut’s wild improvisations, accompanied by cymbals and bass.

In fact, a rare bass solo, warm as brandy, was showcased on this special night, as red, white, and blue spotlights enhanced the moment. A lovely theme, with similar rhythm to the opening piece, changed keys with repetitive refrains, and Harrison’s sax was heard in tiny blasts of bubbling notes. The entire set seemed relaxed and refreshing, playful and personalized, dynamic and different. At one point I heard combinations of 2 slow, 3 fast, and I thought of Cha-Cha-Cha, but this was not dance music, by any stretch.

Christmas themes were interwoven in the set, with smooth saxophone sensations that were evocative of Holiday cheer, with a Latin twist. Harrison’s sax took the lead in the first Holiday melody with a waterfall of rippling, rushing notes, ending in a breathless finale. A surprise was Summertime, with this out-of-season tune book-ending a fiery and fierce blaze of abstract, percussive passages. Chestnut’s piano was driven and daring, and Hawkins, on bass, was singularly strong. But, it was Harrison’s sax that rose to the top of this crackling music, while bass and drums provided new sparks and illuminations.

The After Hours set, with John Hicks on jazz piano, was even more relaxed, fused with ballads, and loosely structured with eclectic rhythms and riffs. Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola is a great new jazz space in the midtown area.

Cyrus Chestnut Trio with Donald Harrison
Photo courtesy of Frank Stewart

Cyrus Chestnut Trio with Donald Harrison
Photo courtesy of Frank Stewart

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at