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Petrucciani: 21 years later

On the 6th January 1999, the jazz pianist passed away at the young age of 36.

By Marc Zisman | Video of the Day | January 6, 2020

Michel Petrucciani was a man like no other. His height, his constant battle with brittle bone disease, his unfaltering energy which always sought to push limits, his huge talent, his regimented work ethic and his unique charisma and sense of humour have made him one of the biggest influences in the world of jazz and beyond.

At the time of his death, Petrucciani was only 36 years old but left behind an impressive international career having gained national treasure status in his homeland of France. As a soloist, as the leader of his own ensembles (often in a trio), or alongside big names such as Lee Konitz (1982’s sublime duo album Toot Sweet), Charles Lloyd, Rachelle Ferrel, Michel Graillier, Joe Lovano, Steve Grossman, Stéphane Grappelli and Marcus Miller, he never stopped following in the footsteps of legends like Bill Evans, his idol, as well as Keith Jarrett, Oscar Peterson and Bud Powell.

His technique was powerful and articulate, and was paired with a sharpened sense of the swing and drama of music. Petrucciani shined the brightest when he immersed himself in the harmony and arrangements, developing his improvisations on an always airy lyricism.

Twenty-one years on from his death, the Southern French pianist lives on through the multiple major recordings published on OWL Records, Blue Note and Dreyfus Jazz.



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