Aaron Diehl Comes to Omaha for “Jelly and George”
March 2nd, 2017
Omaha, NE—The Holland Performing Arts Center will host a night of jazz on Sunday, March 5th with “Jelly and George.” Aaron Diehl, acclaimed pianist and curator of the program, will be joined by New York based pianist, Adam Birnbaum, Grammy Award-winning singer, Cecile Salvant, and other performers in celebration of the music of Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin.
The idea for the program began in 2013 with Diehl’s residency in the Catskills in collaboration with the Marcus Roberts Trio. Diehl said that he and Roberts “share sort of a similar reverence for Gershwin and Morton’s music.”
“The way I imagine this whole program is sort of like a hypothetical meeting of the two composers even though they did not know each other, and I don’t think there’s any account they did meet,” Diehl explained. “That’s how this program is structured. So you have the songwriting by both Morton and Gershwin as well as instrumental compositions by both composers and those playing off of each other—and compare and contrast.”
Despite having lived in the same era, Morton and Gershwin are not always mentioned in the same breath. Diehl explained what unites the composers on one stage.
He said, “What ties the two geniuses together I suppose—first of all they shared similar taste in aesthetics and had the ability to capture a multitude of musical traditions and distill them to meet their own needs and visions as composers.”
Morton and Gershwin composed their music based on very different traditions, but both were key to the development of early American jazz. After 100 years, Diehl doesn’t believe the music has tarnished one bit.
“I think the music and the strength of their musical vision do not require words or explanation,” he said, “and certainly in the lyric writing or the song writing, but they’re all very accessible. I think there’s something very pure about both composers and how they wrote melodies and how they strung everything together to make a very compelling experience for the listener. I don’t think there has to be too much context, and I not to make it a history lesson when I’m on the stage. It’s simply for people to enjoy the brilliance of their work.”
“Jelly and George,” produced by Aaron Diehl and featuring pianist, Adam Birnbaum, singer, Cecile Salvant, and more, will be playing at the Holland Performing Center on Sunday March 5th. For more information, visit TicketOmaha.com.