StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: In the tradition with Aaron Diehl


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This week, let's take a look at some videos featuring pianist Aaron Diehl, who's coming to St. Louis to perform on Friday, January 31 at the 560 Music Center.

The event is a solo piano recital presented by Washington University as its “Annual Carlin Concert," honoring the legacy of Seth Carlin, the internationally renowned pianist who taught at Wash U for 37 years. Carlin was a classical pianist who also enjoyed listening to jazz, and so in keeping with the occasion, Diehl will be playing vintage jazz and stride piano pieces from James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, and others, plus works by George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Louis Gottschalk.

As a contemporary pianist with classical training who also is noted for his interest in pre-WWII jazz styles and material, Diehl seems particularly well-equipped for the task. You can get a taste of the range of his talents starting in the first video up above, which documents Diehl's part of “Rags, Strides, and Stomps," a show at the 2015 Jazz in Marciac festival (also featuring fellow pianists Joey Alexander and Sullivan Fortner). In the clip, Diehl performs “The Original Jelly Roll Blues" by Jelly Roll Morton, “Viper's Drag" by Fats Waller, and James P. Johnson's “Concerto Jazz-A-Mine."

You can see him play another Johnson piece, “Caprice Rag," as recorded by an audience member at a show last year at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center in New Jersey.

Next, you can see Diehl and trumpeter Dominick Farinacci take on Waller's “Honeysuckle Rose" in a clip from 2009, followed by another video from that same year showing the pianist soloing on W.C. Handy's “St. Louis Blues" during a celebration of the music of Louis Armstrong at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.

Those are followed by two videos showing Diehl playing notated works from the classical tradition, starting with an excerpt from his performance last November of Gershwin's “Rhapsody in Blue" with the Pacific Symphony in Costa Mesa, CA, and then Diehl and his trio playing Philip Glass' 2014 composition “Piano Etude No 16" in a live-in-the-studio video just released earlier this month by Mack Avenue Records.

The final video is an hour-long interview with Diehl, recorded in March 2019 at Library of Congress, in which he discusses jazz history with the Library's James Wintle.

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.

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