Sadly, this was the last studio date Michel Petrucciani recorded before leaving the planet. This diminutive piano genius left behind a joyous recorded legacy, which now includes this date as sideman to tenor saxophonist Steve Grossman. In 1969 Grossman, while still a teenager, took over Wayne Shorter’s seat in the Miles Davis band. His sound on the saxophone then was an aggressive powerful display, perfect for the Miles’ records Live/Evil, Jack Johnson, Get Up With It, Black Beauty, and Live At The Filmore. After leaving Miles, his career seemed similar to two other Miles’ alumni, Dave Liebman and Sonny Fortune. All three saxophonists labored under the John Coltrane/Wayne Shorter legacy (who wouldn’t?). Grossman’s aggressive style detracted from his message. Living today mostly in Italy and France, Grossman gives us only occasional offerings, such as the excellent live date with McCoy Tyner and Arthur Taylor In New York from 1991.
This session with Petrucciani, recorded in January of 1998 is a testament to an artist with a fully matured sound. Reminiscent of John Coltrane’s Ballads album, Grossman sticks mostly to standards, and both musicians opt for emotion over technique. Injecting new life into “Body & Soul” and “In A Sentimental Mood” while playing the composition relatively straight is no small feat and quite the accomplishment for the extroverted pair! The quartet does it with an honest presentation. Grossman seems to be saying to the listeners, “enjoy the simplicity of thee compositions.” On the new Petrucciani tune “Parisian Welcome,” the pair trade quotes from jazz history like ball players recounting a championship game. Petrucciani shows no sign of the disease that would shortly take his life. It’s eerie, the beauty which he conjures, almost forecasting this as his last studio session. Grossman, now approaching his fifth decade, embodies the learned teachings of a career in jazz and has much to offer. Look forward to more adroit music from him.
Track List:Ebb Tide; Inner Circle; Song For My Mother; Parisian Welcome; You Go To My Head; Body & Soul; Why Don’t I?; Don’t Blame Me; Theme For Ernie; In A Sentimental Mood.