September 8, 2000

Cyrus Chestnut Trio to Perform at Middlebury College Sept. 23


MIDDLEBURY, Vt.―Acclaimed jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut and his trio will open the 2000-2001 Middlebury College Concert Series with a performance at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23, in the Concert Hall at the Center for the Arts on Route 30.

Chestnut is expected to feature selections from his latest recording, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," due out this month. Chestnut assembled an all-star ensemble of musicians and vocalists to remake Vince Guaraldi’s 1965 classic that sold an estimated five million copies in the U.S. alone, according to Atlantic Records. Prior to his death, Peanuts creator Charles Schultz endorsed the work that features Chestnut’s collaborations with artists including Brian McKnight, the Manhattan Transfer, and Vanessa Williams with the Boys Choir of Harlem.

The Christmas recording is just the latest in Chestnut’s still-young career—he’s 37—that has brought him accolades as a fresh and innovative yet masterful player and composer of classic jazz. Trained at Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory of Music and the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Chestnut began public performances at age seven at the Calvary Star Baptist Church in his hometown of Baltimore. He worked with mentors including Jon Hendricks and Wynton Marsalis and spent two years playing with jazz legend Betty Carter. In 1994 he topped several jazz charts with his debut recording "Revelation" on Atlantic Records and has followed since with recordings of standards, originals, spirituals, and hymns.

With his music firmly rooted in gospel and blues, Chestnut is noted for his wit, humor, and energy. The New York Times calls him "a highly intelligent improviser with one of the surest senses of swing in jazz."

The player-composer works a variety of venues—performing solo, in one-on-one collaborations with other artists, with his trio, or alongside symphonies. He’s dabbled in movie soundtrack projects, and a concert tour last year with opera singer Kathleen Battle gave him a chance to experiment with classical influences. In 1998, Chestnut joined an all-star cast with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra for a PBS salute to Duke Ellington that blues fans may remember. He’s fresh from a well-received tour of Japan.

Reserved seating tickets for the performance are $10 general admission and $8 for senior citizens. Reservations are required for a pre-performance dinner at 6:30 p.m. at Rehearsals Cafe. To order tickets or make dinner reservations, call the College Box Office 802-443-6433.

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