Classically trained Julliard graduate Aaron Diehl returns to the Savannah Music Festival for two shows at the Charles H. Morris Center

Diehl has been performing at the Savannah Music Festival since 2012. This year, he returns to the stage with David Wong (bassist) and Quincy Davis (drummer) by his side. The Aaron Diehl Trio will be performing alongside Chris Pattishall for the first concert on April 1.

Diehl will also be giving a solo performance on April 2.

In past performances, his set includes select songs from his most recent album “Space, Time, Continuum.” More than that, he often performs covers of songs like “Django” by John Lewis and George Gershwin’s “Bess You Is My Girl.”

 

Diehl has a refined touch. His slow-tempo, emotional cover of Duke Ellington’s “Single Petal of a Rose” offers insights on how well he reads and interprets the music he plays.

However, despite his classical training, he has been making quite the mark in the jazz world over the last 15 years. In 2011, he was named Cole Porter Fellow by the American Pianists Association.

The Cole Porter Fellowship is named every four years. The winner of said fellowship is awarded a cash prize and a recording contract with Mack Avenue Records among other prizes.

According to Diehl in his 2012 podcast interview with Jo Reed from the National Endowment for the Arts, his high school was largely academic. But the music program gave him the opportunity to play the works of Duke Ellington and more. This was how he met and was able to tour with Wynton Marsalis and his septet.

Being surrounded by people double his age was a learning experience for Diehl.

“My first gig with him was in Chicago, in Ravinia, and then we went over to Europe,” Diehl said in a podcast. “[Moving from touring to Julliard] was quite the experience. I was playing with the crème de la crème, so to speak. I was playing with students who were at my level or better, but I was spoiled having that privilege from playing with [the Wynton Marsalis septet].”

Diehl is more than just a performer, though; he’s a composer. He composed more than half of the music on “Space, Time, Continuum.”

His self-composed pieces from the album are upbeat and joyful. From his improvisations of popular jazz songs to his personal compositions, Diehl is a joy to hear. He moves around the keys with an ease and grace that resembles the likes of Nat “King” Cole and Scott Joplin.