Pianist Diehl in jazz trio plays varied concert in Palm Beach

Aaron Diehl
Palm Beach Daily News

An alumnus of New York’s Juilliard School, Aaron Diehl is celebrated for his performances of both jazz and classical piano works. He toured Europe with the Wynton Marsalis Septet, played the Gershwin Concerto in F with the New York Philharmonic and took part in the premiere of Philip Glass’s Twenty Piano Etudes. The winner of numerous awards, he has been artistic director of the Catskill Jazz Factory and music director for the Jazz at Lincoln Center New Orleans Songbook concert series.

Diehl and his colleagues, bassist David Wong and drummer Quincy Davis, comprised a classic jazz trio with an exceptional tonal and harmonic palette. Piano and percussion were at opposite sides of the Gubelmann stage Wednesday at The Society of the Four Arts, with the bass in the center. They played a 90-minute “set” without intermission.

Diehl announced most of the items from the piano, beginning with Odd Number by Hank Jones, followed by A Story Often Told, Seldom Heard by Roland Hanna. Diehl also announced that he would play some of the 15 Etudes for Jazz Piano by Dick Hyman, each in the manner of a different jazz pianist. The first to be recalled was Art Tatum (Onyx Mood); later ones mirrored Duke Ellington, George Shearing, Bill Evans and Errol Garner. Milano by John Lewis was preceded by Hanna’s 2015 Portrait of John Lewis, in tribute to a founder and guiding spirit of the legendary Modern Jazz Quartet. Fifty years ago, the quartet was often criticized as too cerebral but Diehl and his colleagues were entirely comfortable in that style. Throughout, Diehl brought a sophistication to his playing that fully utilized the evolution of piano textures and technique during the last century.

Diehl performed two of his own works: Flux Capacitor (in homage to Back to the Future) segued into Broadway Boogie-Woogie (after the 1943 Piet Mondrian painting of the same name). He also performed the sixteenth of Glass’s Piano Etudes, as arranged for his trio. There also was an improvisation on Winter Wonderland, the 1934 evergreen by Richard B. Smith and Felix Bernard, which is usually thought of as a Christmas song despite no reference in it to that holiday.
Read the full review here