Listening to jazz pianist Aaron Diehl play anything, it is not hard to surmise that this gaudily decorated young star of the jazz piano rejects all that is skronky, unruly and “free” in jazz in the name of defending jazz as a high art with a formidably high bar to entry. Diehl’s compositions and performances are immaculate, buttoned-down, rigorous, born of and headed for Lincoln Center.
Before entering Juilliard’s Jazz Studies program as a teenager – before! – Diehl had toured with Wynton Marsalis and had helped curate the estate of the sophisticated jazz visionary John Lewis. Like Lewis, Diehl’s work evinces a deep fluency not only with the jazz traditions but also with Western serious music. His scintillating cover of Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin III, “Forlane” is one of many proof-of-concept standouts on Diehl’s first full-fledged statement as leader, 2013’s quartet session The Bespoke Man’s Narrative.
There is nothing lightweight about Diehl except the exquisite touch and balance of his playing, an approach to line playing that is both ultra-precise and lyrical and an encompassing command of harmony at the ready. These skills have made Diehl an in-demand collaborator as well as a leader.
The Fisher Center and the Catskill Jazz Factory present a Billie Holiday Centenary Tribute featuring the Aaron Diehl Trio and Grammy-nominated vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant in a concert honoring jazz legend Billie Holiday on Friday, May 8 at 8 p.m. in the acoustically superb Sosnoff Theater at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson. Tickets cost $25 to $45 and can be purchased online at https://fishercenter.bard.edu or by calling the box office at (845) 758-7900.
Billie Holiday Centenary Tribute with Aaron Diehl Trio & Cécile McLorin Salvant, Friday, May 8, 8 P.M., $25-$40, Sosnoff Theater, Bard College; (845) 758-7900, https://fishercenter.bard.edu.
Iconic jazz photos by William P. Gottlieb archived online
The Library of Congress has preserved this photo of Billie Holiday as well as hundreds of other famed jazz images taken by William P. Gottlieb online at https://memory.loc.gov/ammem/wghtml/wghome.html. The collection documents the jazz scene from 1938 to 1948, primarily in New York City and Washington, DC.
During the course of his career at the Washington Post and DownBeat magazine, Gottlieb created portraits of many prominent jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Ella Fitzgerald. The late photographer is the father of artist/rock climber Rich Gottlieb, who owns Rock and Snow in downtown New Paltz and is himself a local legend.
– Julie O’Connor