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Michel Petrucciani (December 28, 1962; Orange, France – January 6, 1999; New York City, USA) was a French jazz pianist.

Contents

Biography

Michel Petrucciani came from an Italo-French family with a musical background. His father Tony played guitar, his brother Louis played bass and his last brother Philippe plays guitar too. Michel was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, which is a genetic disease that causes brittle bones and in his case short stature. It is also often linked to pulmonary ailments. In his early career his father and brother occasionally carried him, literally, because he could not walk far on his own unaided. In certain respects though he considered it an advantage as he got rid of distractions, like sports, that other boys tended to become involved in.[1]

At an early age he became an enthusiast of Duke Ellington and wished to become a pianist like him. Although he trained for years as a classical pianist, jazz remained his main interest. He gave his first professional concert at the age of 13. At this point of his life he was still quite fragile and had to be carried to and from the piano. His size meant that he required aids to reach the piano's pedals, but his hands were average in length. This had its advantages, however: at the beginning of his career Petrucciani's manager would often smuggle him into hotel rooms in a suitcase in a bid to save money. By the age of 18 he was part of a successful trio. He moved to the US in 1982, where he successfully encouraged Charles Lloyd to resume playing actively. On February 22, 1985, with Petrucciani cradled in his arms, Lloyd walked onto the stage at Town Hall in New York City and sat him on his piano stool for what would be an historic evening in jazz history: the filming of One Night with Blue Note. The film's director John Jopson would later recall in the reissued liner notes that the moment moved him to tears. In 1986 Petrucciani recorded a live album with Wayne Shorter and Jim Hall. He also played with diverse figures in the US jazz scene including Dizzy Gillespie.[2]

In 1994 he was granted a Légion d'honneur in Paris.

His own style was initially influenced by Bill Evans although some compare him to Keith Jarrett. He is often deemed to be among the best jazz pianists.

On the personal side he had three significant relationships. His first marriage was to the Italian pianist Gilda Buttà that ended in divorce. He fathered two children, one of whom inherited his condition. He also had a stepson named Rachid Roperch.[3]

Michel Petrucciani died just after his 36th birthday from a pulmonary infection. He was interred in Le Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

On February 12, 2009 the French music channel Mezzo broadcasted a special event paying homage to Petrucciani ten years after his death.

The first two American albums featuring Michel Petrucciani were produced by Gabreal Franklin. The first, 100 Hearts, a solo album, was produced at the famous RCA Studio A, on the Avenue of the Americas in New York City. The second was a trio album, recorded live at Max Gordon's old Village Vanguard club in New York City. These were among the first albums to use newly developed digital recording technology, on Mitsubishi X80 recorders, so early on that the only manuals available were in Japanese; but Franklin and Tom Arrison managed to get them to function by trial and error, and produced excellent results.

Discography

Michel Petrucciani's tomb

Tributes

  • A mosaic by Édouard Detmer in honor of Michel Petrucciani has been in the 18th district of Paris since July 2003.
  • "Waltz For Michel Petrucciani", a song on the Finnish jazz Trio Töykeät's album Kudos, is dedicated to him.
  • Christian Jacob's album Contradictions does his interpretation of eleven of Petrucciani's compositions as a kind of tribute.[4]

References

External links

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