Cyrus Chestnut live at the Litchfield Jazz Festival, 2006. Photo: Steven Sussman
Born in 1963, Chestnut began playing the piano at the age of three. In 1985 he completed his degree in jazz composition and arranging from Berklee College of Music. After Berklee, Cyrus began further honing his craft as a sideman with many legendary and leading musicians in the business including Jon Hendricks, Terence Blanchard, Wynton Marsalis, Benny Golson, Regina Cater, Chick Corea, Jimmy Heath, James Moody, Joe Williams, Kathleen Battle, Bette Midler, Freddy Cole, Betty Carter, Dizzy Gillespie and so many others.
As Cyrus was absorbing experiences as a sideman, he was also developing as a leader, recording and playing live around the world. To date he has fourteen albums as a leader including the 1998 release, Cyrus Chestnut (Atlantic), the 2000 release of the A Charlie Brown Christmas (Atlantic), the 2001 release of Soul Food, (Down Beat’s “best records of 2001”), and his most recent, the 2007 release of Cyrus Plays Elvis (KOCH International Jazz).
In addition to his extensive recording and touring career, Cyrus has been featured playing a Count Basie inspired character in the 1996 Robert Altman film, Kansas City. His leadership and prowess as a soloist has led him to be a first call pianist in big bands including the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All Star Big Band, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra.
Chestnut continually tours with his trio, playing live at jazz festivals around the world as well as clubs and concert halls. Cyrus is also a jazz educator teaching seminars worldwide and also occasionally teaching jazz at Middlebury College in Vermont. Cyrus Chestnut’s trio is Cyrus Chestnut on piano, Litchfield Jazz Camp alumnus, Dezron Douglas on bass and Litchfield Jazz Camp teaching artist Neal Smith on drums.