Colors – Michel Petrucciani (piano transcription with sheet music)
Little Big Man: Michel Petrucciani
One of the most exquisite jazz pianists, that rare music of the soul.
Michel Petrucciani was an exceptional musician and a man who knew how to preserve the most transcendent meaning of life, even in the face of the physical obstacle of illness.
Passion and art as a sacred mission in search of beauty are also ways of minimizing the barriers imposed by biology.
His wonderful music is the intangible legacy he leaves us, and his existential example is what warms the hearts of those who remember him.
Afflicted by a very serious bone disease , -he barely reached one meter in height- the French pianist Michel Petrucciani devoted himself almost exclusively to the study of the piano from childhood and ended up becoming one of the most renowned European jazz musicians of all the times. Endowed with extreme virtuosity, his intimate and romantic style, which stemmed from the school of Bill Evans – of whom he was a fervent admirer – intelligently combined lyricism and subtlety with a powerful and percussive attack.
He was born in Orange on December 28, 1962. He studied classical piano and at the age of 12 he performed accompanied by his father on guitar and his brother Louis on double bass. His enormous talent makes him stand out from a very young age and at the age of 17 he records his first album.
The following year he starts with an exceptional trio with Jean-François Jenny-Clark and Aldo Romano , a series of splendid recordings for the French OWL label. In 1982 he moved to California and became the pianist in the group of saxophonist Charles Lloyd , when he returned to the scene after a long retirement. He also performs in a duet with Lee Konitz .
Although he continues recording in France, his stays in New York lead to his first American albums, until in 1985 he began his period on the “Blue Note” label with “Pianism” , a trio recording with Palle Danielson and Elliot Zigmund . The following year he performs in Montreux in a trio with Wayne Shorter and Jim Hall , a meeting that is published under the title of “Power of Three” , one of his great albums.
In later works – “Music”, “Playground” -, approaches the formulas of electric fusion with productions in which their best virtues are diluted. His last album for Blue Note is a solo in homage to Duke Ellington , one of his favorite composers, and a clear influence on any pianist.
In 1994, he recorded again for a French company, Dreyfus , with “Marvellous” , in a trio with the superb support of Dave Holland and Tony Williams and the surprising addition of a string quartet.
His absorbing personality made him prefer small ensembles, and in recent years one of the most fruitful was his unusual and exceptional duet meeting with organist Eddy Louiss , recorded in the two volumes of “Conference de Presse”. But above all he turns to the solo, of which he was a true master. The double CD collected from his performances in Paris, “Au Teathre Des Champs-Elysees” is probably the peak of his recording career.
In 1997, he took a new turn, forming a larger group, a sextet that included two young Italian revelations of the neo-bop trend: Stefano Di Battista and Flavio Boltro , with whom he recorded “Both Worlds”.
The vital and professional career of this great musician is nothing short of moving. Michel Petrucciani, French by birth and of Italian descent, was educated from a very young age around the classical piano. As an adult, he affirmed that a classical and orthodox musical educational base is necessary to acquire the necessary fluency to express what one wishes through music.
His premature death:
His death, on January 5, 1999, due to a lung condition, left a gap that was very difficult to cover in European jazz and in French jazz in particular.
At 36, he was considered one of the great European pianists. The serious bone disease that he suffered from was not an obstacle to his interest in music, and despite not reaching one meter in height, sitting in front of the piano he became a giant .
Posthumously, the “Solo Live” recorded at the “Alte Oper” in Frankfurt was published. A true gift where he recreates some of his songs and pays homage, he had already done on his album “Promenade with Duke” , to his admired Duke Ellington with an indescribable recreation of the Caravan theme with an impressive beginning.
He was born with a serious disease in his skeletal system that impeded his normal body development and motor skills. Within the misfortune, fortunately for him and for those of us who admire his work, his hands did not suffer the disease and he was able to play the piano, with a series of adaptations for the pedals.
Style: has been defined His style in various ways: follower of Bill Evans, romantic and dynamic in style, etc. In any case, it is best to listen in its entirety to the work that he bequeathed to us.
His music can be defined as sentimental, although spirited at the same time, with the right balance between a sophisticated and academic style, although at the same time free and loose, easy to listen to for the layman and delightful for the demanding ear.
So for Christmas his parents gave him a small toy piano that he was in charge of breaking to pieces while claiming: “I want a real one.” Impressed by his determination, his father, Tony Petrucciani , jazz guitarist, bought him an old piano to which he adapted some extensions so that little Michel could get to the pedals.
During the next 8 years he carried out strict classical studies, thus discovering the universe of Bach, Chopin or Debussy . “It’s the way I learned discipline and developed my technique.” At the age of 12 he is already part of a trio accompanied by his father on guitar and his brother Paul on double bass.
At the age of 13, he gave his first professional recital at the Clionsclat Festival. At that same festival, the American “jazzman” Clark Terry was performing. He needed a pianist for that day. Michel offered his services and the trumpet player looked at him thinking it was a joke. I said, “Let’s play the blues,” I started to play, and not a minute had passed when Clark came to hug me.