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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Welcome to Straight No Chaser, the Award-winning Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Siegel

Mar 18, 2013

2013 has started off as a very good year for Jazz CDs. We’ve had excellent releases from Wayne Shorter, Chris Potter, Joe Lovano and Charles Lloyd, and I’m looking forward to some new material from Tomas Stanko, Jane Monheit and Terence Blanchard in the next few months.

The CD I’ve been waiting for with the greatest anticipation, though, is the studio debut of pianist Aaron Diehl. Ever since I caught him at a jazz brunch in Detroit in 2012, it’s been apparent to me that this poised young man has a lot to offer. The release of The Bespoke Man's Narrative has not disappointed me one bit. In fact, I think it represents the appearance of a major new talent.

He began his public persona playing for Mass in the Catholic Church that his parents attended in the Midwest, as well as services held for a primarily African- American clientele at his father's funeral home. At 13 he joined Stoll's Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra; at 16 he took a steady trio gig in a Columbus hotel lounge; at 17, directly after graduating high school, he joined the Wynton Marsalis Septet for a European tour of one-nighters. By 2007 he had graduated from Juilliard, and in April of 2011 he earned first place in the rigorous Cole Porter Fellowship in Jazz Competition of the American Pianists Association. The award garnered him $50,000 in career support and an opportunity to record with Mack Avenue Records. The Bespoke Man's Narrative is the result.

The CD is a quartet session that will remind listeners of the finest work of the Modern Jazz Quartet. With Diehl at piano, David Wong on bass, Rodney Green on drums and Warren Wolf on vibes, the group oozes the sophisticated, cool sound of the MJQ, but is ready to strike out on musical territory that makes the album uniquely their own.

Diehl was fresh from performing at St. Joseph of the Holy Family Church in Harlem, where he has music director duties. A man of great faith and modesty, we talked about his relationship to the music of the MJQ, the strengths of his group, and his coming projects. Click here to listen to Podcast 339, which includes musical selections from Diehl including:

Aaron Diehl - "Generation Y" from The Bespoke Man's Narrative.Diehl con tributed a number of originals for the CD, the best of which may have been this number. The quartet is Diehl on piano, David Wong on bass, Rodney Green on drums and Warren Wolf on vibes

Aaron Diehl Trio - "Moonlight in Vermont" from Live at The Players.Diehl, Wong and Quincy Davis recorded this version of the standard tune. Diehl enjoys working and re-working the tune so much he re-recorded it on the new CD.

Aaron Diehl - "The Cylinder" and "Blue Nude" from The Bespoke Man's Narrative. In his sophomore year at Juilliard, Aaron worked with John Lewis’ widow, helping with archival work on the great pianist’s notes and scores. It follows that he would record this Milt Jackson tune, which was a highlight of the 1974 MJQ concert released as The Complete Last Concert. "Blue Nude" is another stellar Diehl tune.