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.
The phenomenon that was pianist Michel Petrucciani (b. December 28th, 1962, d. January 6th, 1999) is brought to life by this double-feature DVD from Dreyfus Records. Containing the hour-long documentary (Non-Stop Travels With Michel Petrucciani) that aired on many PBS television stations and a concert performance (Michel Petrucciani Trio: Live In Concert) in Germany, this wonderful DVD brings clarity to the person and musician that was Petrucciani. The single strongest emotion that keeps pouring forth as Petrucciani speaks and plays is his enormous talent and forever optimistic and humorous demeanor trapped in a body with a degenerative bone disease that would fail him before he turned forty.
The two instruments (Piano and Hammon organ) - though unusual, go very well together. The artists play together and make room for each others performances as if they have known each other forever. Louiss' organ creates at smooth and warm athmosphere and Petrucciani plays with a sparkling enthuiasm seldom heard. His energy, drive and variations of the themes makes it impossible not to stamp your foot, nod your head and smile.
Organist Eddy Louiss and pianist Michel Petrucciani perform a set of boppish duets on this intriguing and successful effort. Louiss and Petrucciani (who brought in "I Wrote You a Song" and "Simply Bop") contributed two songs apiece and co-wrote "Jean-Philippe Herbien." In addition, they perform "All the Things You Are," "So What," and "These Foolish Things." The blend between Louiss' organ and Petrucciani's piano is quite attractive, and they work together quite well, leaving enough space for their individual personalities to emerge yet forming a highly appealing ensemble sound.
Having untethered himself from the United States and Blue Note Records, Petrucciani returned to France and promptly zapped out one of his finest, most unusual recordings. By this time, Petrucciani had found his own stylistic groove, his technique sharpened to an enviable degree, his melodic bent fresh and inextinguishable. To these assets, Petrucciani added two ex-Miles Davis sidekicks of some note, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Tony Williams, who provide a furious polyrhythmic kick for the pianist to groove on. And there is something else put together just for the session: the Graffiti String Quartet, a quartet of Frenchman who have mastered the elusive craft of swinging on the strings.
Showing the influence of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, as well as an expansive understanding of jazz in general, pianist Michel Petrucciani weaves myriad textures, rhythms, and styles at the keyboard, producing work that sounds both complex and seamless. His brevity comes from both incredible technique and an ease with a wide range of musical settings: quintets, quartets, trios, and an assortment of duo settings. Petrucciani further expands the field here with a solo program of two originals and two standards. He kicks things off with the self-penned "The Round Boys Dance," an abstract boogie-woogie number full of mercurial improvisation
Michel Petrucciani's last European recording before hooking up with Blue Note, this set of duets matches the tiny but powerful pianist with bassist Ron McClure. They perform post-bop explorations of four originals (including an ad-lib "Cold Blues"), "Autumn Leaves" and "There Will Never Be Another You." The interplay between the two musicians is impressive, but although McClure plays a prominent role, Petrucciani is clearly the dominant force.