Aaron Diehl is a young pianist with a bright future, as evidenced on his most recent trio CD, "Live at the Players" (Aaron Diehl 2012), as well as a previous solo album recorded "Live at Caramoor" (CDBaby 2009). (There is one other early recording, called "Mozart Jazz" that I have not heard, which was recorded for the Japanese label Pony Canyon). Diehl has a classic approach to his music, hewing toward the tradition developed and passed on from Ahmad Jamal, Wynton Kelly, Eric Reed, Kenny Barron and others of that ilk; rather than exploring the outer edges of the tradition like fellow young pianists Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran, or Craig Taborn, to name just three who are coming out of a different tradition. This does not suggest a lack of imagination or excitment in Diehl's music; quite the contrary, he demonstrates clearly how the tradition can be expanded and improvised upon today.
But the rapport with Wong and Davis is really most notable, and really drive the music on brightly played cuts like “Pick Yourself Up” and “Green Chimneys”, the latter very comparable to the Kenny Barron trio version on the album of the same name. The trio has a very distictive, modern feel for the music, and bring a great deal of poise and bravado to it. Everyone contribures throughout the CD, and at times Diehl is very effective in changing the feeling by dropping his sound down to allow his bandmates to carry the melodies. His restraint on slower songs lends an elegance to the proceedings, and his fills are perfect on the ballads as he restrains himself and never overpowers the others, playing instead as a trio of equals. The variety shown between the ballads and the upbeat songs make this a virtuoso showpiece for Diehl and a terrific listen for all of us.