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Bob Malach/Michel Petrucciani: Conversations with Michel

“I think I’m getting more and more to be myself,” says Michel Petrucciani on Conversations With Michel. “It’s getting more and more Michel Petrucciani’s sound and not Michel Petrucciani quote Bill Evans, quote McCoy Tyner, quote Keith Jarrett, quote, you know, everybody in town except me.”

These quotes come from two conversations recorded with Ben Sidran in 1988 that, along with eight duos with tenor saxophonist Bob Malach from 1989, comprise a valuable insight into Petrucciani’s creative process. Both the music and interviews provide a shrewd self-examination by the pianist, whose every solo was a questing self-examination. Petrucciani’s work on Owl in France and, following his move to America in 1982, Concord and Blue Note, were indeed distillations of influences-albeit shrewdly and musically realized. But by the end of the ’80s he was his own man, and in a decade that resounded to the competing clamor of hyperbolic claims from record companies about their youngest and fastest signings, Petrucciani emerged as an artist of considerable creative substance and quite possibly the only true jazz great of recent times. The four takes of “My Bebop Tune” on Conversations show the intensity of his pursuit of perfection, each take cutting closer to the bone with Malach’s saxophone the voice of reason in these engaging musical conversations.

Originally Published