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Aaron Diehl|Zodiac Suite

Zodiac Suite

Aaron Diehl & The Knights

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Idioma disponível: inglês

In recent years, the pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981) has finally been getting the wider recognition she deserves. Highly respected among her peers, Williams worked as an arranger for Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman; mentored Diz, Monk, and Miles; and, though far from an avant-gardist, recorded a 1977 live album with free jazz firebrand Cecil Taylor. 

In 1945, Williams wrote "Zodiac Suite," which gracefully fuses jazz and classical. Each of its twelve pieces correlate with an astrological sign; several of them have dedicatees. Different versions of the work—ranging from trio to large ensemble—have been performed and recorded over the years. Now, the ace pianist Aaron Diehl, a long-time admirer of Williams, has teamed up with The Knights, a New York-based chamber orchestra, to record this carefully researched version of the composition. Diehl's regular trio mates, bassist David Wong and drummer Aaron Kimmel, also appear on the album, along with special guests.

"Taurus" is one of the standouts in Williams' finely crafted string of twelve gems. The piano intro moves from spare chords, accompanied by quiet, droning strings, to a cascade of keyboard notes. Later, blues lines from piano and orchestra break into a confident stride before a variation on the opening section closes the beguiling piece.

The easy-going swing of "Virgo" takes its sweet time to unfold. Trumpeter Brandon Lee solos over the finely executed orchestration; his horn's burnished, bluesy tone is a sweet match for the sophisticated, buoyant arrangement.

The closer, "Pisces"—the only track with vocals—evokes the theatre music of Kurt Weill. Soprano Mikaela Bennett gives convincing dramatic shape to the intriguing melody and lyrics. (Williams probably penned the words.) In under three minutes, the song moves through several moods, and like much of the album's material, impresses with its achievement of breadth within concision.

Diehl's well-known touch graces Zodiac Suite, whether he is in the spotlight or playing a supporting role. The pianist's consistent sensitivity and precision, along with The Knights' vivid performance, honors Williams' great artistry and spirit. © Fred Cisterna/Qobuz

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Zodiac Suite

Aaron Diehl

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1
Aries
00:02:10

The Knights, MainArtist - Todd Whitelock, MixingEngineer, RecordingEngineer - Mary Lou Williams, Composer, Arranger - Colin Jacobsen, MusicDirector - Aaron Diehl, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Eric Jacobsen, Producer, MusicDirector - Neal Shaw, SecondEngineer - Chris Muth, MasteringEngineer - Teng Chen, AdditionalEngineer - Cecilia Music Publishing/Modern Works Music Publishing (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

(C) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC (P) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC

2
Taurus
00:02:41

The Knights, MainArtist - Todd Whitelock, MixingEngineer, RecordingEngineer - Mary Lou Williams, Composer, Arranger - Colin Jacobsen, MusicDirector - Aaron Diehl, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Eric Jacobsen, Producer, MusicDirector - Neal Shaw, SecondEngineer - Chris Muth, MasteringEngineer - Teng Chen, AdditionalEngineer - Cecilia Music Publishing/Modern Works Music Publishing (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

(C) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC (P) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC

3
Gemini
00:02:07

The Knights, MainArtist - Todd Whitelock, MixingEngineer, RecordingEngineer - Mary Lou Williams, Composer, Arranger - Colin Jacobsen, MusicDirector - Aaron Diehl, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Eric Jacobsen, Producer, MusicDirector - Neal Shaw, SecondEngineer - Chris Muth, MasteringEngineer - Teng Chen, AdditionalEngineer - Cecilia Music Publishing/Modern Works Music Publishing (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

(C) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC (P) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC

4
Cancer
00:03:47

The Knights, MainArtist - Todd Whitelock, MixingEngineer, RecordingEngineer - Mary Lou Williams, Composer, Arranger - Colin Jacobsen, MusicDirector - Aaron Diehl, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Eric Jacobsen, Producer, MusicDirector - Neal Shaw, SecondEngineer - Chris Muth, MasteringEngineer - Teng Chen, AdditionalEngineer - Cecilia Music Publishing/Modern Works Music Publishing (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

(C) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC (P) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC

5
Leo
00:02:22

The Knights, MainArtist - Todd Whitelock, MixingEngineer, RecordingEngineer - Mary Lou Williams, Composer, Arranger, Director - Colin Jacobsen, MusicDirector - Aaron Diehl, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Eric Jacobsen, Producer, MusicDirector - Neal Shaw, SecondEngineer - Chris Muth, MasteringEngineer - Teng Chen, AdditionalEngineer - Cecilia Music Publishing/Modern Works Music Publishing (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

(C) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC (P) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC

6
Virgo
00:05:25

The Knights, MainArtist - Todd Whitelock, MixingEngineer, RecordingEngineer - Mary Lou Williams, Composer, Arranger - Colin Jacobsen, MusicDirector - Aaron Diehl, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Eric Jacobsen, Producer, MusicDirector - Neal Shaw, SecondEngineer - Chris Muth, MasteringEngineer - Teng Chen, AdditionalEngineer - Cecilia Music Publishing/Modern Works Music Publishing (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

(C) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC (P) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC

7
Libra
00:03:54

The Knights, MainArtist - Todd Whitelock, MixingEngineer, RecordingEngineer - Mary Lou Williams, Composer, Arranger - Colin Jacobsen, MusicDirector - Aaron Diehl, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Eric Jacobsen, Producer, MusicDirector - Neal Shaw, SecondEngineer - Chris Muth, MasteringEngineer - Teng Chen, AdditionalEngineer - Cecilia Music Publishing/Modern Works Music Publishing (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

(C) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC (P) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC

8
Scorpio
00:03:23

The Knights, MainArtist - Todd Whitelock, MixingEngineer, RecordingEngineer - Mary Lou Williams, Composer, Arranger - Colin Jacobsen, MusicDirector - Aaron Diehl, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Eric Jacobsen, Producer, MusicDirector - Neal Shaw, SecondEngineer - Chris Muth, MasteringEngineer - Teng Chen, AdditionalEngineer - Cecilia Music Publishing/Modern Works Music Publishing (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

(C) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC (P) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC

9
Sagittarius
00:01:38

The Knights, MainArtist - Todd Whitelock, MixingEngineer, RecordingEngineer - Mary Lou Williams, Composer, Arranger - Colin Jacobsen, MusicDirector - Aaron Diehl, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Eric Jacobsen, Producer, MusicDirector - Neal Shaw, SecondEngineer - Chris Muth, MasteringEngineer - Teng Chen, AdditionalEngineer - Cecilia Music Publishing/Modern Works Music Publishing (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

(C) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC (P) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC

10
Capricorn
00:03:43

The Knights, MainArtist - Todd Whitelock, MixingEngineer, RecordingEngineer - Mary Lou Williams, Composer, Arranger, Director - Colin Jacobsen, MusicDirector - Aaron Diehl, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Eric Jacobsen, Producer, MusicDirector - Neal Shaw, SecondEngineer - Chris Muth, MasteringEngineer - Teng Chen, AdditionalEngineer - Cecilia Music Publishing/Modern Works Music Publishing (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

(C) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC (P) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC

11
Aquarius
00:03:18

The Knights, MainArtist - Todd Whitelock, MixingEngineer, RecordingEngineer - Mary Lou Williams, Composer, Arranger - Colin Jacobsen, MusicDirector - Aaron Diehl, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Eric Jacobsen, Producer, MusicDirector - Neal Shaw, SecondEngineer - Chris Muth, MasteringEngineer - Teng Chen, AdditionalEngineer - Cecilia Music Publishing/Modern Works Music Publishing (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

(C) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC (P) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC

12
Pisces
00:02:58

The Knights, MainArtist - Todd Whitelock, MixingEngineer, RecordingEngineer - Mary Lou Williams, Composer, Arranger, Director - Colin Jacobsen, MusicDirector - Aaron Diehl, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Eric Jacobsen, Producer, MusicDirector - Neal Shaw, SecondEngineer - Chris Muth, MasteringEngineer - Teng Chen, AdditionalEngineer - Cecilia Music Publishing/Modern Works Music Publishing (ASCAP), MusicPublisher

(C) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC (P) 2023 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC

Resenha do Álbum

In recent years, the pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981) has finally been getting the wider recognition she deserves. Highly respected among her peers, Williams worked as an arranger for Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman; mentored Diz, Monk, and Miles; and, though far from an avant-gardist, recorded a 1977 live album with free jazz firebrand Cecil Taylor. 

In 1945, Williams wrote "Zodiac Suite," which gracefully fuses jazz and classical. Each of its twelve pieces correlate with an astrological sign; several of them have dedicatees. Different versions of the work—ranging from trio to large ensemble—have been performed and recorded over the years. Now, the ace pianist Aaron Diehl, a long-time admirer of Williams, has teamed up with The Knights, a New York-based chamber orchestra, to record this carefully researched version of the composition. Diehl's regular trio mates, bassist David Wong and drummer Aaron Kimmel, also appear on the album, along with special guests.

"Taurus" is one of the standouts in Williams' finely crafted string of twelve gems. The piano intro moves from spare chords, accompanied by quiet, droning strings, to a cascade of keyboard notes. Later, blues lines from piano and orchestra break into a confident stride before a variation on the opening section closes the beguiling piece.

The easy-going swing of "Virgo" takes its sweet time to unfold. Trumpeter Brandon Lee solos over the finely executed orchestration; his horn's burnished, bluesy tone is a sweet match for the sophisticated, buoyant arrangement.

The closer, "Pisces"—the only track with vocals—evokes the theatre music of Kurt Weill. Soprano Mikaela Bennett gives convincing dramatic shape to the intriguing melody and lyrics. (Williams probably penned the words.) In under three minutes, the song moves through several moods, and like much of the album's material, impresses with its achievement of breadth within concision.

Diehl's well-known touch graces Zodiac Suite, whether he is in the spotlight or playing a supporting role. The pianist's consistent sensitivity and precision, along with The Knights' vivid performance, honors Williams' great artistry and spirit. © Fred Cisterna/Qobuz

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