Michel Petrucciani - piano Palle Danielsson - bass Eliot Zigmund - drums special guest: Jim Hall - guitar
By any standards Michel Petrucciani is a remarkable man. How could anyone achieve
so much when life dealt out such a seemingly hopeless hand of cards? Musician-writer
Mike Zwerin met Michel when he was in France back in 1977 and wrote later "Michel is small,
very small, you won't believe how small Michel is. He must have been out to lunch when
they were handing out bodies. Chunkey hunchbacked trunk, withered legs, emaciated arms;
he was nothing but heart, mind and hands". But forget the physical deformities, all of which
Michel has overcome, and listen to the music he creates. This is piano playing of a
standard seldom heard since the passing of Bill Evans. Michel Petrucciani is not only a
very great pianist, he is also the composer of beautiful tunes. His trio is one of the
most exiting, compact units in jazz and with guitarist Jim Hall sitting-in for
one number this is a video of a night at New York's "Village Vanguard" club to be treasured,
and played again and again.
Live at the Village Vanguard
Let us dispose of the basic facts first, then we can concentrate on the music. Michel Petrucciani was born in Orange, France, on December 28, 1962 of a French mother and Sicilian father. Since birth he has suffered from calcium deficiency, osteogenesis imperfecta ("glass bones") and has to be carried, like a three-foot high doll, to and from the piano. The piano itself has to be modified with blocks fitted to the pedals to enable Michel to reach them. While still in his early teens he astounded visiting Americans such as drummer Kenny Clarke, trumpeter Clark Terry and guitarist Joe Pass with his amazing talents at the keyboard. (Michel's father plays guitar and a brother is a bass player.) He left home at the age of 17 to go to work with Kenny Clarke in Paris and then crossed the Atlantic to play on America's West Coast with saxist Charles Lloyd. In the Eighties he worked in New York with his brother Louis on bass. An admirer of pianist Bill Evans, Michel has emerged as one of the great keyboard talents of the late 20th century. His amazing facility allows him to translate ideas into music immediately. The trio works with him so well that it is impossible to imagine a situation in which improvisations are not worked out to perfection. On drums is Eliot Zigmund, who played with the last of the Bill Evans Trios right up to the time Evans died in 1980. The addition of Jim Hall for the waltz works so well that it is no surprise to find that Hall, Petrucciani and tenor saxist Wayne Shorter recorded the Blue Note album "Power of Three" about the time of the Village Vanguard booking. Michel's music covers a range of emotions, from the slow and delicate The Prayer to the bright, calypso-like Our Tune. Here is a true musical giant.