One just has to look at the line up of this album to know that this will be an enjoyable listening experience.
Soul Food finds Cyrus Chestnut in four different settings, in a large group with the trio of Chestnut, Christian McBride on bass, and Lewis Nash on drums augmenteded by Marcus Printup on trumpet, Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, and James Carter on tenor sax. Also there is the trio plus vibraphonist Stefon Harris, just the trio, and two songs where Chestnut is solo. All of the players are extremely virtuosic and play with effortless grace and soul. Chestnut shines on every song and plays with a refreshing lack of ego. He is always playing a solo totally conducive to the feel of the song. The rhythm section, as suspected is superb. There is also an appearance by Gary Bartz, the alto player at the end of the album in a sort of epilogue.
This is the kind of album that seems familiar yet new, and is extremely enjoyable and accessible upon first listen. The opener, "Soul Food," is classic soul jazz Jazz Messengers style with great solos by Printup, Carter, and Chestnut. It is an awesome song and the kind of song that sounds crisp, swings, and sounds like an old favorite the first time you hear it.
Other favorite tracks include Chestnut's powerful and amazing solo rendition of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" where Cyrus takes a song everybody has heard a million times and makes it his own. It's just a musical treat.
I also really like the quiet and sweet "Cerebral Thoughts" with Stefon Harris which represents modern and somewhat smooth jazz that keeps its soul and an edge. Harris rarely plays anything i don't like.
This album flows really well and is also one of those albums that you can listen to front to back and over again without feeling bored as it varies the line ups throughout the album. This album is just a really enjoyable album from start to finish and should appeal to a wide range of people.