There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Blessed Quietness: A Collection of Hymns, Spirituals, and Carols
Cyrus Chestnut is so good that I hope someone takes the time to record him in solo situations like this again. Art Tatum’s indispensable series of solo dates features him turning popular songs inside out and making their steely exteriors malleable. On this collection of seasonal and religious tunes Chestnut, like obvious influence Tatum, accomplishes tuneful transformations of standards. In Chestnut’s hands, “Silent Night” becomes as much a romantic ballad as a religious one, and “We Three Kings” becomes darkly meditative. The more uptempo tracks (“Amazing Grace,” “Blessed Quietness”) don’t detract from the disc’s solemn devotion, which culminates in the ruminative album-ending version of “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” Blessed Quietness deserves to be played year-round.
—It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christopher Porter