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Boxed Set (Concerts In: Michel Petrucciani

Jim Santella By

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A lyrical pianist with a powerful, percussive style, Michel Petrucciani gave the world more than 20 years of exciting performances that have enthralled audiences worldwide. This three-disc collection includes three live appearances in France, Denmark and Japan with formats as solo, duo, and trio settings. With the pianist in Copenhagen is bassist Neils-Henning Orsted Pedersen. The Nabari, Japan piano trio performance includes drummer Lenny White and Petrucianni’s brother, Louis. All three performances took place in 1993-94.

As a solo performer, the pianist’s visual image cannot be ignored. Dedicated and deeply involved in his work, Petrucciani warmed hearts. His small stature and Osteogenesis Imperfecta afflicted body brought wonder. In 1975, Clark Terry’s surprise must have been significant. He hired the French-born pianist on the spot, after hearing how well his approach to the blues fit Terry’s own standards. In California, Petrucciani relit Charles Lloyd’s desire to perform. Again, the visual image combined with his superb artistry left a distinctive impression.

As a duo, Petrucciani and NHOP perform popular jazz standards such as “Oleo,” “My Funny Valentine” and “All Blues.” Highly effective, this session represents one of the best jazz performances on record and is above reproach.

The trio CD, however, pales in comparison. The session’s recorded sound isn’t quite as rich, and their passion doesn’t quite get off the ground. Even gems like “On Green Dolphin Street” and “All The Things You Are” can’t stir the pot. Still, this performance offers a close look at Petrucciani’s bassist brother, Louis, and at a piece written by his other brother, Philippe. Philippe Petrucciani’s “Why?” is a light, samba affair that contains a bit of melodrama, as the title suggests. The trio drives that thought home with tasteful solo work and uncluttered ensemble passages. The Petrucciani love and dedication to jazz seems to run in the family. Highly recommended, this 3-hour collection comes with numerous photos of the pianist in performance, as well as one each alongside friends Eddy Louiss and Stéphane Grappelli. Michel Petrucciani is sorely missed, but his valiant spirit lives on.


Title: Michel Petrucciani | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Blue Note


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