The African-American spiritual has been a presence in jazz throughout its history, from the direct connection at its beginnings to major works such as John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme or Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts.
The music of pianist Cyrus Chestnut, appearing with his trio and guest guitarist Russell Malone at Nova Southeastern University’s Miniaci Performing Arts Center on Saturday night, is never far from it.
The son of a church organist and a church choir director, Chestnut grew up immersed in sacred sounds. In an interview for JazzTimes, he said accompanying church singers was a formative experience. “You had to listen. It wasn’t about you; it was about what you could contribute to the whole.”
He has worked with exceptional artists including Wynton Marsalis and Betty Carter, can swing hard, is an elegant improviser and — as evident in recordings such as Spirit, Genuine Chestnut (with Malone on several tracks) and Blessed Quietness — he can definitely summon the spirit. Swing with soul seems perfect for the season.
South Florida Jazz presents the Cyrus Chestnut Trio with guitarist Russell Malone: 8 p.m. Saturday; NSU Miniaci Performing Arts Center, 3100 Ray Ferrero, Jr. Blvd., Davie; $40, students $15; southfloridajazz.org, 954-462-0222.