Aaron Diehl – The Vagabond

aaronThese motherfuckers can play!

Diehl ain’t here to prove shit. The jazz pianist got the grammies, the accolades, the chops, the crowds, the swag, that fat jazz dick, and the depth of an emo black hole discovering God in the galaxy MACS0647-JD. Ya, the galaxy MACS0647-JD, motherfuckers. That shit is deep. Paul Sikvie, the upright bassist on this bitch, plays like silk feels. He floats like a feather on a warm breeze in summer. Ever hear bass whisper secrets to its lover under the bedsheets? That’s how this dude plucks gut. Then there’s Gregory fucking Hutchinson. Some drummers can’t be called drummers. They’re just past that shit. They’re beyond. They’re complete musicians and composers. They’re euphonic fucking savants. These three players blend perfectly. They exist to project a single idea. The subtle depth of this album comes on like spring. Sure, you might not notice it all at first, but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. No matter how frigid, long, and powerfully bitchy winter is, one day you look outside and there’s some deer accidentally fucking a bush over a batch of new-sprung flowers. Well, shit, there it is. It’s fucking spring. This shit sneaks up like a ninja. You don’t realize it’s murdered you until it’s over.

This album includes 7 original compositions from Diehl himself. Each one is like that chocolate waterfall in Wonka’s factory: smooth, thick, enticing, daring, a bit scary, and rich as balls. This is music you can throw on in the back and feel good about. But if you’re in the mood to dig into technique and wonder, you’ll have Oompa Loompas singing about your death before act 2. Like Willy Wonka, as you’re smiling like the cat that got the cream, it’s subtly killing with a cane, like a true motherfucking pimp. The other songs on this album are covers. A classic jazz move. Usually jazzers change up songs from legends like Gershwin, Fats, and sometimes Radiohead. But not Diehl. Naw, too fucking easy. This dude covers Philip Glass’s, “Piano Étude No. 16,” and Prokofiev’s, “March from Ten Pieces for Piano, Op. 12.” This ain’t just a shtick either. He doesn’t simply pull it off, dude pulls it out. And it’s fucking glorious.

Wait … what does it pull out? Effortless style, technique that makes me question what the fuck I’ve done with my life, a fun with experimentation and complexity in the same field and depth that chess masters and theoretical physicists must venture through. Come on. How the fuck can someone improvise Prokofiev? Well, first they’ve got to have to the gall, tenacity, and diligence to pull that shit off. Ain’t gonna happen overnight. Second, they’ve got to love the shit out of the piece and listen into all kinds of music with the clarity of a goddamn audiophiliac. And finally, those motherfuckers better be able to play.

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