Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Aaron Diehl The Bespoke Man's Narrative Mack Ave. 2013

March 19th, 2013. Mark the date on your calendar for the release of Aaron Diehl's debut release The Bespoke Man's Narrative. Diehl's Mack Avenue debut is receiving wide spread critical acclaim with just a little over a month before the official street date. This is one of the rare recordings where all the stars are in perfect alignment. From ironic title to the all star quartet assembled here, there are simply no missed steps. Diehl crushes this one.

As a pianist Diehl understand and demonstrates a firm grasp of jazz traditions as well as the beauty of a simple melody and applies his own harmonic voice to a few select standards, some original work and even goes back to his wheelhouse with a trio arrangement of the "Forlane" section of Maurice Ravel's "Tombeau de Couperin." In the fashion industry "bespoke" refers to custom made suits, shirts and the creator of fine apparel for men. The irony previously mentioned is that Diehl is clearly the architect of this release but without the egocentric idiosyncrasies that plague similar artists. In short, Diehl likes to spread the wealth not to mention the elegance and sophistication of influences including John Lewis from MJQ or Duke Ellington. Aaron Diehl does indeed make old school new cool by establishing his own voice along with the help of David Wong on bass, Rodney Green on drums and Warren Wolf on vibes.

The harmonic sense of purpose and mad improvisational skills from Diehl reinvents the George Gershwin tune "Bess, You Is My Woman Now." This formidable 4tet swings hard on "Stop and Go" which dances close to a hard bop line with a swing that is captivating. It is of little surprise that Diehl walked away as the winner of the Cole Porter Fellowship competition. David Wong's solo pops with vitality on "Moonlight In Vermont." No matter the arrangement there is a layer of texture and counterpoint that weaves in and out of each tune. A beginning, a middle and an end and all distinctly different allow the listener to enjoy not only the group dynamic but challenges one to fill in those musical shades of gray that are the creative fabric that holds jazz together.

Sheer sonic perfection condensed on to a shiny silver disc. It simply does not get much better than this. 5 Stars for a somewhat personal recording charting Diehl's musical journey. While it is inherently unfair to compare the sound of an artist to another as each voice is unique, the ability shown here is reminiscent of a Chick Corea and Ahmad Jamal hybrid. Diehl would seem to be an artist comfortable with who he is now and who he hopes to be in the future.

Tracks: Prologue; Generation Y; Blue Nude; Moonlight In Vermont; The Single Petal Of A Rose; The Cylinder; Stop and Go; Le Tombeau De Couperin; Bess, You Is My Woman; Epilogue.

Photo Credit to John Abbott and Special Thanks to Mack Avenue Records for their support.