A Pianist Swings Hard in Both Classical and Jazz

Aaron Diehl
The New York Times

At the Juilliard School, the pianist Aaron Diehl studied both classical and jazz traditions. And in the years since, he’s chosen to follow each of those paths — and sometimes both, simultaneously.

Mr. Diehl has played with Cécile McLorin Salvant and Wynton Marsalis. His own recordings as a bandleader have revealed him to be not only a stylish improviser, but also a composer worth watching.

In recent years, he has revived the practice of interpreting Gershwin’s concert music through an improvisatory filter. His imaginative yet idiomatic turn in the Concerto in F with the New York Philharmonic at their opening-night gala in 2016 contained the hardest-swinging note I’ve ever heard inside David Geffen Hall. (It was an interpolated low D that Mr. Diehl tossed off with casually elegant force toward the end of the first movement.)

This weekend, Mr. Diehl plays “Rhapsody in Blue” (on Saturday) and the less familiar “Second Rhapsody” (on Sunday) with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as part of the brief but potent series “William Grant Still and the Harlem Renaissance.”
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