Cyrus Chestnut: Cyrus Plays Elvis

[18 December 2007]

By Jason MacNeil

Pianist Cyrus Chestnut works his magical fingers throughout this album, which features a slew of Elvis Presley classics. While harsh critics would say these are little more than lounge-y renditions, Chestnut brings a jazzy sophistication to much of the material beginning with “Hound Dog” and a sultry, stylish “Don’t Be Cruel”, which conjures up Oscar Peterson or Herbie Hancock. However, not everything here is gold, as a pedestrian paced stab at “Can’t Help Falling In Love” is little more than arty elevator music. Fortunately, Chestnut comes back with a far better and textured version of “Love Me Tender” (featuring great solo work) then follows that up with a smoky, gentle, and terribly tender “Don’t”. Perhaps the biggest surprise is how strong both “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Suspicious Minds” come off, the latter containing a slightly different arrangement, mixing jazz and Latin.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/cyrus-chestnut-cyrus-plays-elvis/