One of the most riveting improvisers of his generation, Cyrus Chestnut is considered a go-to guy, the pianist everyone wants on their session. DARK BEFORE THE DAWN explains why. Roots help shape an artist, and certainly Chestnut's early exposure to gospel music has impacted his playing. The bravura passages of this trio disc parallel congregational shouts, building slowly until they erupt in a fervent hallelujah. That dedication to dynamics, and an instinct for economy and equilibrium, show themselves on "Wright's Rolls and Butter" and "Sentimentalia." On "Steps of Trane," Chestnut even dares to tweak the shape of the master's "Giant Steps." Bassist Steve Kirby and drummer Clarence Penn know exactly which way their boss is going to turn on this disc; swinging ditties like "Call Me Later" and "Kattin'" are marked by their sparkling performance.