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Michel Petrucciani: Both Worlds

The diminutive piano dynamo with the dynamic technique has enjoyed a decidedly mixed recording career, never really establishing a good sense of momentum with any one company. That is perhaps until now, where Dreyfus has opened its arms to his various projects, this outing being a program exclusively of his original compositions. His writing is sparkling, witty, largely optimistic and full of heart. All is arranged by the esteemed Bob Brookmeyer, who also graces the session with the somewhat rare offering of his considerable trombone work, rare because his concentration in recent times has been on pen and paper.

Also assisting Michel are drummer Steve Gadd, who used to be ubiquitous on New York sessions but who seems to have limited such activity in the latter ’90s; the adroit bass guitarist with the acoustic sensibility Anthony Jackson; trumpeter Flavio Boltro and saxophonist Stefano DiBattista, a nice cultural balancing act of three Americans and three Europeans, thus in part comes the title. The theme is further borne out in the Frenchman Petrucciani entrusting his creations to the arranging skills of the American Brookmeyer. The results are a fresh, jazz-proud date that neatly spans the poly-world sensibility. Petrucciani’s compositional influences are equally as disparate, but despite the melding of these wide-ranging elements the date works as a cohesive whole. And the ensemble flavor is indeed manifest. It certainly seems the wisdom of age and experience find Michel no longer content with diving headlong into piano furioso, instead he deals from the standpoint of the essence of jazz-the band sound, something all too rare these days.

Originally Published