Upon seeing the cover of Aaron Diehl‘s new album, I was put off. It seemed pretentious. There he was, looking so self-satisfied in his suit and designer chair. Of course it might have helped if I remembered what “Bespoke” meant. His new Mack Avenue album is called The Bespoke Man’s Narrative. Bespoke means well turned out sartorially–hence the nicely tailored suit, the Italian shoes. And the supremely confident looking artist…which, I realized later, mirrored his elegant, sophisticated music.
I decided to revisit the album after hearing what he did with our Rhythm Planet exclusive concert with another supremely talented musician, Cecile McLorin Salvant. He was superb in that exclusive set we taped in New York. Click here to view the August 2nd post.
Aaron Diehl measures up to the cover image in every conceivable way. I have listened repeatedly and will come back, something I have to make time for when it’s worth revisiting. His ideas are fresh, his execution precise, and he knows how to swing. His coherence reminds me of John Lewis’ style, especially when he and vibes player Warren Wolf launch into the Modern Jazz Quartet’s classic song, “The Cylinder”. He also evidences the impeccable touch of Ahmad Jamal, one of the greatest pianists ever. This is an album you can listen to again and again, honest music that invites you back in to discover new wonders with each listening.
Congratulations to both Aaron and Mack Avenue for this great new side. Forgive me for saying this, but he’s “The Real Diehl”.
Here’s Aaron’s band performing Milt Jackson’s “Bag’s Groove”…smooth as silk and swinging like hell.