Personnel: Cyrus Chestnut (piano); Victor Lewis (drums).
Audio Mixer: David Stoller.
Liner Note Author: Geoffrey Himes.
Recording information: The Samurai Hotel Recording Studio, Astoria, NY (11/24/2014).
Photographer: Alan Nahigian.
Roughly 18 albums into his career, jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut delivers his HighNote record label debut with 2015's A Million Colors in Your Mind. With a title that borrows inspiration from a short story by Mexican author Maria Cristina Mena, the album finds Chestnut once again delving deep into his own colorfully chorded and swinging set of well-chosen cover songs. Although in his mid-fifties at the time of recording, Chestnut nonetheless wanted to record an album in which he could commune with musicians who were slightly older and more seasoned than himself. Accordingly, backing Chestnut here are the supremely intuitive duo of bassist David Williams and drummer Victor Lewis, who certainly bring decades of experience to Chestnut's album and, based on cuts like the trio's fluid take on Frank Loesser's gospel-infused "Brotherhood of Man" and Lewis' own "From a Tip," have an affinity for each other's playing. That said, the choice to work with experienced musicians is not a new one for Chestnut, who came up early in his career backing legendary vocalist Betty Carter, a position he inherited, in part, from Carter's longtime collaborator pianist John Hicks. Here, Chestnut even plays a Hicks composition, the atmospheric waltz "Yemenja." Elsewhere, Chestnut and his trio dig into a handful of urbane, soulful songs, from a sparkling take on late bassist Scott LaFaro's "Gloria's Step" to an inspired reworking of Lionel Richie's "Hello" and a languid, Latin-inflected version of Duke Ellington's "Day Dream." Ultimately, Chestnut continues to dazzle with A Million Colors in Your Mind, revealing ever more tantalizing musical layers. ~ Matt Collar