We caught up with jazz pianist Aaron Diehl ahead of his gig here on Friday 24 November…
Can you tell us a bit about life growing up…
I grew up in Columbus, Ohio. My parents aren’t musicians, but my grandfather played trombone and piano, and he was certainly my earliest influence. I have memories of observing him play the piano at home. I curiously attempted to mimic the sounds he created on the instrument. My parents enrolled me into the Capital University community music school at 7 years old, and I haven’t stopped loving to play since. I was very fortunate to live in a community that nurtured my love for music.
Who were/are your biggest influences?
My teachers, and not only music instructors. It’s gradually dawned on me how critical their role was in my development. There is tremendous value in teaching for those that find it to be their vocation. The impact on students is priceless and lasts a lifetime.
Can you tell us a bit about the Trio joining you for the gig here at Turner Sims on 24 Nov?
Quincy Davis will be on drums. I have known Quincy since 2006, and he’s someone I have always admired for his musicianship as well as his character. He’s a terrific human being, and sensitive and adaptive in his playing. He taught for a few years at the University of Manitoba, and now he’s at the University of North Texas, so it’s a rare treat to go on the road with him.
Paul Sikivie, the bassist—we frequently perform together in Cécile McLorin Salvant’s band. He wrote the string arrangements on her latest album “Dreams and Daggers.” We began playing together during Lawrence Leathers’ late night jam session at Small’s back in 2009, and then with Cécile in 2012.
You were the 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival Commission Artist, one of the youngest artists to receive this honour – what advice would you give to a young musician?
Minimize social media use. Also, there is no immediate gratification in the quest to become a first-class artist. That’s why I make the suggestion about social media. With these platforms, we are conditioned to only see the now.
You’ll be performing pieces from your new album – can you tell us a bit about what we can expect?
Yes, but prior to my UK appearances I’ll be with Philip Glass in Denmark performing some of his piano music. I am starting to incorporate some of that repertoire within the trio, trying to discover how it can be compatible with the ensemble and jazz language.
What music do you listen to in your free time?
I try to listen to at least one album a day. This week so far has been:
Fantabulous (Oliver Nelson)
Bach Motets (John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir)
Spillane (John Zorn)
Naughty (Chaka Khan)
Book tickets for Aaron Diehl in concert here