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Jazz - Released January 1, 1984 | Blue Note Records

If it were not for Michel Petrucciani's good taste, it is likely that his very impressive technique would dominate his solos. As it is, the pianist has been able to use his technique in surprising ways, avoiding the obvious and showing self-restraint while coming up with ingenious ideas in his improvisations. This solo album, his first for an American label, finds Petrucciani exploring pieces by Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, and Sonny Rollins, in addition to two of his own songs and a lengthy wandering medley that somehow incorporates "Someday My Prince Will Come," "All the Things You Are," "A Child Is Born," and Bill Evans' "Very Early" into a collage. A very impressive outing. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1986 | Blue Note Records

After five years during which he emerged from France to become an important figure in the international jazz world, pianist Michel Petrucciani (still a few days shy of his 23rd birthday) debuted on Blue Note with this superior trio outing. Assisted by bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Eliot Zigmund, Petrucciani sometimes shows off the influence of Bill Evans both in the nearly equal roles played by the instruments and in his chord voicings. However, the pianist's own personality does shine through often on the set, which features explorations of four of Petrucciani's tunes, "Night and Day," and "Here's That Rainy Day." Superior post-bop music played by the already brilliant pianist. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | Blue Note Records

This is an all-star summit that works quite well. Pianist Michel Petrucciani, a major jazz musician who had already led 11 record dates by this time (despite still being only 23), teams up with guitarist Jim Hall at the 1986 Montreux Jazz Festival for two lyrical duets: the altered blues "Careful," in which they comp exquisitely behind each other's solos, and "In a Sentimental Mood." Petrucciani and Hall are joined by Wayne Shorter on soprano and tenor for "Limbo," "Morning Blues," and the calypso "Bimini," and these songs feature some of Shorter's finest jazz playing of the era. Highly recommended. [A video/DVD was also released.] © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | Blue Note Records

Music was a slight departure from pianist Michel Petrucciani's usual Bill Evans-influenced recordings of the period. Petrucciani uses synthesizers (his and Adam Holzman's) on all but two selections, but these are very much in the background, making the ensembles sound a little larger than they actually are. Petrucciani's ten originals range from romantic ("Memories of Paris") and manic ("My Bebop Tune") to charming ("Lullaby") and funky ("Play Me") with a generous supply of Latin-tinged pieces and one rhythmic vocal by Tania Maria; Joe Lovano (on soprano) and the accordion of Gil Goldstein make one appearance apiece. Worth investigating. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1991 | Blue Note Records

Pianist Michel Petrucciani, who during the early part of his career was heavily influenced by Bill Evans, gradually developed his own sound. By 1991 he was using Adam Holzman on synthesizer with his quintet (which on this date also includes bassist Anthony Jackson, drummer Omar Hakim and percussionist Steve Thornton) to play colors behind his piano. In addition, Petrucciani was backed by funky rhythms and emphasized his own original compositions. Rather than selling out to blatant commercialism, Petrucciani had actually found his own voice within the "contemporary" setting. The music on his CD is of consistently high quality (despite a few too many fadeouts). Highlights include "Miles Davis' Licks" (a blues that utilizes some of Davis' late-period nursery rhyme melodies), the intense "Brazilian Suite #3," a playful jam on "Laws of Physics" and the Keith Jarrett-ish "P'tit Louis." Actually, all 11 of Michel Petrucciani's originals are worth hearing and, despite the brief playing time (39 minutes) of this CD, it is recommended. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1993 | Blue Note Records

In an interview, Michel Petrucciani said "...my biggest inspiration is Duke Ellington, because in my very early age he gave [me] the inspiration to play the piano." For Promenade with Duke Petrucciani not only honors music Ellington composed, but music with which he was associated. There are some Billy Strayhorn pieces and other songs where Ellington's compositional contributions are arguably marginal. That the album offers an adventure in harmony is predicted by the first cut, "Caravan." Stretching over seven minutes in length, it explores, in-depth, virtually every nuance of this 1936 hit which Ellington wrote with trombonist Juan Tizol. Bold approaches to harmonies notwithstanding, Petrucciani does not desert his basic let-it-all-hang-out romanticism which he celebrates on "Lush Life." He emphasizes feelings of sentimentality in his rendition of "In a Sentimental Mood." His interpretation is brooding and introspective, but every now and then some bright chords hold out the hope that the somber climate may be passing. Petrucciani is a master at clarifying the mood he is trying to create with his piano. Not all the music on the album is familiar Ellington, as shown in the presence of two rarely performed pieces, "Hidden Joy" and "One Night in the Hotel." It is on the well-known "Take the 'A' Train," however, that Petrucciani expresses best the joy he experiences with Ellington's music and the influence it has had on him. His is a rousing, twisting rendition of the Duke's signature tune. Promenade with Duke is one of the more innovative and stimulating sets of solo piano performances of Ellington's music on disc. © Dave Nathan /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | Blue Note Records

The single-disc Best Of outing is a mixed blessing. The 12 performances include the wonderful "Bimini" from Power Of Three, as well as trio and quartet takes from arguably his best release, Pianism, and six cuts with him playing acoustic and electric keyboards on the same composition. But the disc gives a grab-bag feel for Petrucciani the composer and improviser; we can't tell how his approach evolved, nor chart his growth or stagnation. In addition, the company doesn't even provide complete recording information, omitting the dates for the tracks. The ridiculously exaggerated, incomplete liner notes place Petrucciani in the company of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, an absurd comparison...So while it isn't a definitive compilation, it does function as more of a sampler for neophytes. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | Blue Note Records

Michel Petrucciani's decision to utilize Adam Holzman on atmospheric electric keyboards behind his piano playing was an excellent idea. Not only did it give him an "orchestral" setting in which to improvise, but it enabled Petrucciani to completely escape the Bill Evans influence that has made so many other pianists sound a bit derivative. For this set (recorded at a concert in France), Petrucciani is joined by Holzman, bassist Steve Logan, drummer Victor Jones and percussionist Abdou M'Boop on seven of his originals and "Estate." Highlights include "Miles Davis Licks," "Rachid," and "Thank You Note," but all eight selections work quite well as part of a set of colorful post-bop music. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1995 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released October 16, 1995 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1996 | Dreyfus Jazz

This CD features a logical combination of two talented Frenchmen, violinist Stéphane Grappelli and pianist Michel Petrucciani, who had never recorded together before. With the assistance of bassist George Mraz and drummer Roy Haynes, the co-leaders romp on a variety of standards. Petrucciani was 32 at the time of this June 1995 set, a mere child compared to the 87-year-old Grappelli. Despite his age, Grappelli's violin playing sounds as youthful and enthusiastic as it had been in the 1930s; the 60 years of practice had not hurt. While Petrucciani's music is usually in the Bill Evans post-bop vein, he was happy to visit Grappelli's turf on this occasion, mostly playing veteran standards. On such songs as "Sweet Georgia Brown," "How About You" (here mistitled "I Love New York in June"), "I Remember April," and "There Will Never Be Another You," Stephane Grappelli is both joyful and masterful. Highly recommended. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 1, 1996 | Dreyfus Jazz

This CD features a logical combination of two talented Frenchmen, violinist Stéphane Grappelli and pianist Michel Petrucciani, who had never recorded together before. With the assistance of bassist George Mraz and drummer Roy Haynes, the co-leaders romp on a variety of standards. Petrucciani was 32 at the time of this June 1995 set, a mere child compared to the 87-year-old Grappelli. Despite his age, Grappelli's violin playing sounds as youthful and enthusiastic as it had been in the 1930s; the 60 years of practice had not hurt. While Petrucciani's music is usually in the Bill Evans post-bop vein, he was happy to visit Grappelli's turf on this occasion, mostly playing veteran standards. On such songs as "Sweet Georgia Brown," "How About You" (here mistitled "I Love New York in June"), "I Remember April," and "There Will Never Be Another You," Stephane Grappelli is both joyful and masterful. Highly recommended. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1997 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released October 15, 1997 | Dreyfus Jazz

The diminutive French pianist Michel Petrucciani continues to display immense talent at the keyboard, but for a change, he's turned to another musician to arrange his original material. Seasoned arranger and superb trombonist Bob Brookmeyer makes a major contribution, adding very different shadings than the leader would have chosen. Rich unison lines flesh out "35 Seconds of Music and More," and Brookmeyer creates an especially melancholy mood for "Colors." An ominous introduction to "Training" dissolves later into a joyful bossa nova. This recommended CD also features trumpeter Flavio Boltro, saxophonist Stefano Di Battista, bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Steve Gadd. © Ken Dryden /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Blue Note Records

Tackling his own material, with nary a vintage standard within earshot, Petrucciani combines his assertive, driving, mainstream piano with two different trios on two separate occasions. The first half of the program features the hard-swinging combination of bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Roy Haynes, augmented on "One For Us" by the slightly withdrawn guitar of John Abercrombie. The second half finds bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Al Foster providing somewhat smoother, perhaps more conventional support, occasionally with a Latin twinge, and Abercrombie and percussionist Steve Thornton sit in on one number apiece. Petrucciani's compositions are certainly worthy pieces, but as always, the pianist's direct, intelligently probing solos leave the source material way behind; he's an improviser through and through. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 22, 1999 | Dreyfus Jazz

Pianist Petrucciani was somewhat of a chameleon, inclined to go from mainstream jazz to more contemporary beats, which makes the rhythm team of electric bass guitarist Anthony Jackson and drummer Steve Gadd a good combination. They push and pull the pianist, flexing their fusion-oriented muscles while providing a swinging backdrop that Petrucciani can relate to, allowing him to exhibit his unbridled lyricism. This is a live club date done at the Blue Note in Tokyo, and the crowd response is indicative of the kineticism flowing on the bandstand from these three outstanding musicians. The trio swings hard on "Training," one of seven Petrucciani originals. It's a basic melody rivaling the best of Tommy Flanagan's work. Gadd's swing/funk informs "September Second," which sets the pianist on a melodic tear of modally repeated choruses as a basis for his startling improvisations. The lilting ballad "Home," with its slight samba inferences, goes into a disco shuffle and "Just the Way You Are" tonalities. Then the trio cuts loose for Petrucciani's flying bop number "Little Peace in C For U," a showstopper no matter your preference. Gadd's seldom-heard brush work on the ballad-to-easy-swing of "Love Letter" has the band gelling nicely, while "Cantabile" incorporates light funk underneath Petrucciani's paraphrasings of snippets from "Blues Skies" and "Without a Song." A more rambling melodicism that can go anywhere -- and does -- accents the modal, pedal-point base of the funky lite blue "Colors" with quotes straight from "But Beautiful" and "But Not for Me." As an encore closer, the trio begins politely on the Miles Davis evergreen "So What!," but grows energetic and animated halfway through. There is an emphasis on interplay, especially from Gadd on the latter bridgework. This is another posthumous reminder of how wonderful Petrucciani could be in a spontaneous concert setting, playing his own music with most capable musicians. Recommended. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 26, 2000 | Dreyfus Jazz

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Blue Note Records

This double LP finds pianist Michel Petrucciani often showing the influence of Bill Evans. His interplay with bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Eliot Zigmund (an Evans alumnus) is consistently impressive and these eight performances (all but two are between eight and 12 minutes long) never lose their momentum. It's recommended for lovers of piano trios. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Dreyfus Jazz

The great pianist Michel Petrucciani recorded for the Dreyfus label during the six years before his 1999 death. Producer/label owner Francis Dreyfus is worried about Petrucciani being underrated if not completely forgotten, so he put together this sampler of previously released material covering the pianist's 2Dreyfus period. Petrucciani is heard solo, dueting with his father guitarist Tony Petrucciani ("Michel's Blues"), interacting with organist Eddy Louiss, in a trio with bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Steve Gadd, collaborating with violinist Stephane Grappelli (the boppish "Little Peace in C for U" and "Pennies From Heaven"), playing in a sextet with valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, and being joined by the Graffiti String Quartet. "Pennies From Heaven" was only previously out on a privately issued CD. Dreyfus did a fine job of picking out the most exciting and emotional selections from his catalog of Petrucciani gems, so one gets to hear one highpoint after another throughout this single-CD sampler. Michel Petrucciani was one of the greats and So What offers plenty of evidence. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Dreyfus Jazz

A lot of people first became aware of French pianist Michel Petrucciani through his work with Charles Lloyd in the early '80s. Standing barely three feet tall, he lived with complications from glass-bone disease, a painful, genetically transmitted condition known to medical science as osteogenesis imperfecta. While growing up, Petrucciani suffered hundreds of bone fractures, and throughout his meteoric career he sometimes broke fingers during performance. Extraordinarily gifted and restlessly active in spite of it all, he continued to perform and record like a whirlwind before succumbing to a pulmonary ailment at the age of 36 in January 1999. Petrucciani appeared before the public as a soloist at the Alte Oper Concert Hall in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on February 27, 1997. Portions of that performance were posthumously released by the Dreyfus label just months after his passing. Ten years later the complete unedited concert recording was made available as a double CD, expanded from 11 to 20 tracks. Here is your opportunity to experience Petrucciani in person, fully alive and in excellent form. Everything people remember about him is suddenly brought forward with rewarding immediacy, including the sound of his voice. All of his recordings are worth exploring. This one qualifies as utterly essential. © arwulf arwulf /TiVo

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Michel Petrucciani in the magazine