Art Blakey was known for spotting young talent, and it turns out his protégé, Wynton Marsalis, is going to be known for the same.
Blakey, constantly scouring for new Jazz Messengers found Marsalis, and now Marsalis, arguably the most respected trumpeter of his generation, spotted the young and immensely talented pianist, Aaron Diehl.
I propose Aaron Diehl, along with vibraphonist Warren Wolf, re-name themselves the “Post-Modern Jazz Quartet,” because they are a completely unique, twenty-first century version of the Modern Jazz Quartet. These young, Generation Y-ers, are just as sophisticated, talented, and dapper, as John Lewis and Milt Jackson, but without being a direct throwback to the past. There’s nothing old-fashioned about them.
Diehl’s debut record, The Bespoke Man’s Narrative (translation: the story of a man who wears fine, tailored suits), swings with all the sophistication of the MJQ. The record guides you through Diehl’s narrative, opening with the gentle, mid-tempo Prologue. The album proceeds through hills and valleys of ballads and swingers, nurturing the blues, and emphasizing the ensemble. Stop and Go, one of my favorite tracks on the record is a dialogue between Diehl and Wolf, each racing for the finish line, then slowing down while their wrists catch a breath. If Art Tatum and John Lewis had a love-child, it would be Diehl’s command of every individual piano key on this tune. The narrative closes with the warm, feel-good, bluesy Epilogue, leaving the listener to wonder what the career of young Diehl will bring to the future of jazz.