Michel Petrucciani

Solo Live/Both Worlds

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This posthumous compilation, issued in late 2005, nearly seven years after Michel Petrucciani's untimely death in early 1999, combines the contents of two earlier Dreyfus Jazz CDs, Solo Live and Both Worlds. The first 11 tracks are taken from an early 1997 solo piano concert in Frankfurt, Germany. There are numerous outstanding tracks, including the intricate "Little Peace in C for U"; a sorrowful setting of "Chloé Meets Gershwin"; and a deliberate, heartfelt rendition of the timeless ballad "Besame Mucho." An intricate extended piece, "Trilogy in Blois," eventually segues into a turbocharged performance of "Caravan" that recalls Oscar Peterson's thunderous live recordings, followed by a medley of his lively boogie-woogie "She Did It Again" (a piece titled after an incident in Charles Lloyd's car where the saxophonist's dog repeatedly passed gas, to the pianist's dismay) and "Take the 'A' Train." Both Worlds is an atypical part of the pianist's vast discography as a leader, as he turned to veteran arranger Bob Brookmeyer (who also plays outstanding valve trombone on the session) to score Petrucciani's compositions, resulting in strikingly different approaches. The combination of the three horns makes "35 Seconds of Music and More" sound more like a big band than a sextet, as they complement Petrucciani's driving piano with solid unison lines. The perky "Brazilian Like" proves immediately infectious, though the dark introduction to "Training" soon transforms into an upbeat bossa nova. The lyrical influence of pianist Bill Evans is unmistakable in "Petite Louise," while "Chloé Meets Gershwin" is a lightly swinging number that showcases each of the horns in turn, with Brookmeyer's bluesy solo coming out on top. Other contributors to Both Worlds include trumpeter Flavio Boltro, alto saxophonist Stefano di Battista, electric bassist Anthony Jackson, and drummer Steve Gadd. While this compilation is enjoyable, the reissue of Solo Live with bonus tracks in 2007 with additional material not included on this two-disc set makes it of less interest to Michel Petrucciani fans than acquiring the two performances separately.

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