Petrucciani, Michel, jazz pianist; b. Orange, France, Dec. 28, 1962; d. N.Y., Jan. 6, 1999. He suffered from calcium deficiency osteogenesis imperfecta (“glass bones”) and was about three feet tall and had to be carried to the piano. His father was a jazz guitarist. Michel played with his two older brothers, Philippe (guitarist) and Louis (bassist), in a family band. At age four, he was playing drums, but saw Duke Ellington on TV and decided to switch to piano. He was influenced by Bill Evans and Lennie Tristano. By age 15, he was playing with Kenny Clarke and accompanied touring artists such as Clark Terry. He toured France in the early 1980s; following a visit to N.Y., he moved full-time to the U.S. in 1982. His first U.S. appearance was as a guest of Lee Konitz’s nonet at SUNY in Purchase, N.Y. When Konitz announced that a friend from France was coming out, the audience was pleasantly surprised to see a young woman, more surprised when she seemed to be carrying a baby, and astounded when the “baby,” seated at the piano, played a terrific solo on “Cherokee”! (The woman was his wife of the time; he was married and divorced several times.) He played in Charles Lloyd’s comeback band in 1982, recording and touring Europe with him, then made an infamous Blue Note appearance in 1983 and a heralded appearance at the Kool Jazz Festival in 1984. Petrucciani subsequently recorded with Wayne Shorter, Jim Hall, and cut many albums as a leader. He did a two-year solo tour all over Europe and Latin America (1995–96). He played with Lloyd again in 1996 at the Iridium in N.Y. and was in N.Y. to play at Birdland (1997) with Steve Gadd and Anthony Jackson. In July 1997, he appeared in Paris, Wiesbaden, Germany, and the Juan les Pins festival.
Michel Petrucciani Trio (1981); Date with Time (1981); Toot Suite (1982); Oracle’s Destiny (1982); 100 Hearts (1983); Note ’n Notes (1984); Live at the Village Vanguard (1984); Pianism (1985); Cold Blues (1985); Power of Three (1986); Michel Plays Petrucciani (1987); Music (1989); Playground (1991); Live (1991); Promenade with Duke (1993); Marvellous (1994).
—Lewis Porter/Music Master Jazz and Blues Catalogue