© 2024 WRTI
Your Classical and Jazz Source. Celebrating 75 Years!
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Aaron Diehl On Piano Jazz

Pianist Aaron Diehl hails from Columbus, Ohio, where he started playing the pinao at home, as a young child. He also watched as his grandfather, a trombonist and pianist, played both at home and at venues around town, and when Diehl was seven, his mother enrolled him in classical piano lessons.

Though he learned a few tunes from his grandfather, he at first considered jazz to be "old people's music." Diehl credits a summer at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and hearing Eldar Djangirov, another young jazz phenom, with proving to him that jazz could be relevant for younger players. He gave the music a second listen and began to fall in love with the piano styles of Oscar Peterson, Duke Ellington, Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk.

Diehl's jazz skills developed quickly, and he was chosen to perform with the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra. As a junior in high school, he was named Outstanding Soloist in Jazz at Lincoln Center's Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition.

The young pianist also caught the attention of Wynton Marsalis, who calls Aaron "The Real Diehl." Immediately following Diehl's graduation from high school, Marsalis welcomed him on tour with the Wynton Marsalis Septet. Diehl has also worked with jazz luminaries such as Wycliffe Gordon, Benny Golson and Hank Jones.

In 2007, Diehl graduated from the Juilliard School, where his teachers included Kenny Barron, Eric Reed and Oxana Yablonskaya. In 2006, he released an album entitled Mozart Jazz, his debut as leader of his own trio, on the major Japanese label Pony Canyon. The release was a hit, and the Japanese broadcaster NHK made a documentary showcasing Diehl and Jazz at Juilliard, for more than 5,000,000 listeners nationwide.

Recently, Diehl performed at "Thelonious Monk at 92," a celebration of the jazz legend held at the World Financial Center in New York City, where he shared the bill with Geri Allen and Randy Weston. He has also performed frequently with the Wycliffe Gordon Quartet.

Diehl is currently the musical director of St. Joseph of the Holy Family Church in Central Harlem, and maintains a busy performance schedule at venues throughout Manhattan and beyond.

Originally recorded Dec. 6, 2006. Originally aired in 2007.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Grant Jackson