About This Performance
Hear for yourself how classical traditions and jazz intersect and cross-influence each other. Aaron Diehl shows off his classical training and the enigma and inspiration of improvisation in music by Ellington, Still, Roland Hanna, Nathaniel Dett and many others.
WILLIAM GRANT STILL: Seven Traceries
ROLAND HANNA: Century Rag
WILLIE “THE LION” SMITH: Fading Star
JAMES P. JOHNSON: Keep Off the Grass
WYNTON GUESS: J-Walking
DUKE ELLINGTON: New World A-Comin’
NATHANIEL DETT: Juba Dance
SCOTT JOPLIN: Solace
Pianist and composer Aaron Diehl mystifies listeners with his layered artistry. At once temporal and ethereal, his expression transforms the piano into an orchestral vessel in the spirit of beloved predecessors Ahmad Jamal, Erroll Garner and Jelly Roll Morton. Following three critically acclaimed leader albums on Mack Avenue Records—and live appearances at historic venues from Jazz at Lincoln Center and The Village Vanguard to New York Philharmonic and the Philharmonie de Paris—the American Pianist Association’s 2011 Cole Porter fellow now focuses his attention on what it means to be present within himself. His forthcoming solo record promises an expansion of that exploration in a setting at once unbound and intimate.
Aaron conjures three-dimensional expansion of melody, counterpoint and movement through time. Rather than choose one sound or another, he invites listeners into the chambered whole of his artistry. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Aaron traveled to New York in 2003, following his success as a finalist in JALC’s Essentially Ellington competition and a subsequent European tour with Wynton Marsalis. His love affair with rub and tension prompted a years-long immersion in distinctive repertoire from Monk and Ravel to Gershwin and William Grant Still. Among other towering figures, Still in particular inspires Aaron’s ongoing curation of Black American composers in his own performance programming, unveiled this past fall at 92nd St. Y.
Aaron has enjoyed artistic associations with Wynton Marsalis, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Buster Williams, Branford Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Philip Glass and multi-Grammy award-winning artist Cecile McLorin Salvant. He recently appeared with the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra as featured soloist.
Aaron holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from Juilliard. A licensed pilot, when he’s not at the studio or on the road, he’s likely in the air.