Harvey Diamond is a Boston-based jazz pianist who has played with artists including Dave Liebman, Sheila Jordan and Art Farmer and two bassists I’ve also worked with, Harvie S and Jamie MacDonald. Diamond was a student of the legendary, idiosyncratic and trail-blazing pianist Lennie Tristano during Tristano’s last years of teaching. He will be performing on Friday April 23rd at 8 pm and giving a workshop on Saturday, April 24th at 10 am during the Vermont Jazz Center’s fifth annual Solo Jazz Piano Festival. The festival will be streamed live on the VJC’s website, and includes many great players including Elio Villafranca, Craig Taborn and Kris Davis. I highly encourage anyone reading this to both attend as much of the festival as you can and to donate to the VJC through their website (all events are free but donations are encouraged.) I have attended the festival for the past three years, including once as a guest artist, and have found it enlightening and a great portal to what is happening currently at the highest levels of jazz piano playing.
In anticipation of Harvey’s performance this coming weekend, I transcribed (with his permission) part of his solo on Sonny Rollins’ ‘Tenor Madness’ from the album ‘Harvey Diamond Trio’ with bassist Marcus McLaurine and drummer Satoshi Takeishi. I focused on the fourth, fifth and sixth choruses of the solo because they have some great examples of what George Colligan calls ‘hand-to-hand conversation’. Colligan coined the term to describe the dialogic moments in Horace Silver’s piano solos, but it is an approach that can be found in the playing of many great jazz pianists, particularly Wynton Kelly. In the fourth chorus, Diamond’s left hand is responding to two-bar ‘questions’ from his right hand, but by the sixth chorus, in measure 30, the left hand is introducing ideas which the right hand picks up. There is also a hallmark of the style of Diamond’s teacher Tristano at measures 35 and 36, where he plays a four note motive (Db, Bb, Ab, Eb) twice with two different rhythmic placements. The first time is on the second beat with swing eighth notes, and the second time is on the third beat with more straight eighth notes. All in all, a fantastic and highly swingin’ solo. I highly encourage you to check out the rest of ‘Harvey Diamond Trio’, which is full of inventive treatments of standards and beautifully reflective ballads, including a gorgeous reading of Duke Ellington’s ‘Don’t You Know I Care’.