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Cyrus Chestnut, Benny Green And More On JazzSet

Cyrus Chestnut.
Cyrus Chestnut.

We return to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center for a New Year's Eve set with Cyrus Chestnut and Benny Green on two pianos, joined by Nicholas Payton on trumpet and Jimmy Heath on tenor, with the excellent rhythm section of Dezron Douglas on bass and Willie Jones III on drums.

After the first song, Chestnut and Green pause to talk about one of the losses of 2010, pianist Hank Jones (1918-2010). Chestnut says, smiling, that Jones was "elegant, astute, smooth, and he could cut you down with the smoothest of words," and asks Green, "Is there anything you want to say about Bad Henry?" Green's reply: "Hank Jones keeps us honest forever."

They then jointly unfurl a beautiful musical salute to Dr. Billy Taylor (1921-2010), with Green taking the lead in "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free."

"Moody's Groove" is NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath's elegy for his friend and section mate, James Moody (1925-2010). Cyrus Chestnut sings the lyric, including this bridge:

The style in his art

Makes you smile from the start

Then brightens up your day

When he sings or when he plays

The joyful celebration swings all the way to a New Orleans-inspired "Auld Lang Syne" — thanks to Nicholas Payton, up from the Crescent City — and beyond, to launch a new year with jazz.

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