Michel Petrucciani

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Michel Petrucciani was a few weeks shy of his 19th birthday when he recorded this solo CD, which was not widely available until it was distributed by Rhino nearly a decade later. The pianist's program is an ambitious one, starting with a dark, richly-textured interpretation of Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue" (incorrectly attributed to John Coltrane, although he did help to make the piece famous with his recording of it). His dramatic take of "'Round Midnight" has an especially haunting quality to it. Wes Montgomery's "Bumpin' on the Sunset" is also in good hands, with Petrucciani delivering a masterful performance. Petrucciani's originals are not quite as successful. "Santa Barbara" showcases his technique, but almost seems like an improvisation as he is attempting to work out a new composition in the studio. Likewise, "Mike Pee," a nickname given to him by legendary pianist Bill Evans (after he told the young man that his name was too long!), shows off his chops, but finds him not quite fully formed as a composer. This CD has been getting harder to find since Owl ceased operations, so fans of this talented pianist (who died in 1999, shortly after his 36th birthday) may have some difficulty locating it.

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