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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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The Bespoke Man's Narrative

Mack Avenue MAC 1066



1. Prologue
2. Generation Y
3. Blue Nude
4. Moonlight in Vermont
5. Single Petal of a Rose
6. The Cylinder
7. Stop and Go
8. Le Tombeau de Couperin (Forlane)
9. Bess, You is My Woman Now
10. Epilogue

Aaron Diehl - Piano
Warren Wolf - Vibes (tracks 1-4, 6, 7, 10)
David Wong - Bass
Rodney Green - Drums


What on earth does the album title mean? Aaron Diehl claims that the music was written to fit the musicians in the group, just as a bespoke suit is cut to fit the customer. The group's line-up might suggest a comparison with the Modern Jazz Quartet and, indeed, Aaron Diehl helped John Lewis's widow to sort out his manuscripts and recordings. And The Cylinder is a popular piece from the MJQ's repertoire, which Aaron Diehl's quartet performs similarly to the MJQ's versions, with a sprightly solo from vibist Warren Wolf.

Yet I would compare this group not to the MJQ but to another vibes-piano-bass-drums ensemble: the Calvin Jackson Quartet. Both Jackson and Diehl's quartets are more jaunty than the Modern Jazz Quartet, and less inclined to a musical stiff upper lip. For instance, Moonlight in Vermont can often be slightly mournful but Aaron's group takes it at a smart pace with vigorous drum breaks. And Diehl's composition Generation Y is delivered in a busy up-tempo.

Aaron wrote several pieces on the album, including the similar Prologue and Epilogue, plus the leisurely Blue Nude and Stop and Go, which has an intriguing machine-gun effect from the piano and tasteful counterpart between piano and vibes, as well as switching between fast and double time.

The tracks are divided equally between Aaron Diehl's originals and other people's compositions. Duke Ellington's Single Petal of a Rose is a delicate piano solo. The most unusual choice is Le Tombeau de Couperin (Forlane), which is an adaptation of a piece by Ravel, with strong bass from David Wong. Aaron interprets Bess, You is My Woman Now with poignancy and dignity, supported by arco and pizzicato bass.

This is the first album from Aaron Diehl, who is only 26. He has already shown his talent by winning the Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz competition, and I would be glad to hear more of him. He's the real Diehl.

Tony Augarde

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