CELEBRATING
50 YEARS

JT Track Premiere: “Montelimar” by Michel Petrucciani

Track will appear on Colors, a new compilation of recordings by the late pianist, due out Feb. 14

Michel Petrucciani
Michel Petrucciani (photo: Franck Benitta)

JazzTimes is honored to premiere a previously unreleased recording of “Montelimar” by the late French piano virtuoso Michel Petrucciani. The track will make its official debut on Colors, a 2-LP, 2-CD, and digital compilation album scheduled for a February 14 release on BMG that commemorates the 20th anniversary of Petrucciani’s death in 1999.

Recorded in Paris in 1994, this version of “Montelimar” features Petrucciani on both organ and (overdubbed) piano.

Over a relatively short career, Petrucciani overcame the effects of the bone disease osteogenesis imperfecta to become a major force in the jazz world. The first non-American artist to sign to Blue Note Records, with whom he recorded for seven years, he went on to work with Francis Dreyfus and released a total of 16 studio albums. Revered as a consummate interpreter of the Great American Songbook, Petrucciani was also a formidable composer; his catalog of originals is showcased on Colors‘ 18 tracks (15 for the double LP).

The album’s title—itself taken from one of Petrucciani’s compositions—is a nod to the pianist’s affinity for synaesthesia. “I put color into every note,” he once said to Libération magazine. “So, for me the A is green, the C is red, the G is blue, the E is brown, the F is yellow, and so on.” Over time, the colors that resolutely illuminated his music became increasingly clearer: “Nowadays, my music revolves less around the notes themselves and more around their colors. The important thing is to play the right color at the right moment.”

In addition to the music itself and artwork overseen by Pascal Anquetil, Colors includes liner notes from Charles Lloyd, Marcus Miller, Lenny White, Steve Gadd, and Ahmad Jamal, who writes, “I have just finished listening to one of the most brilliant pianists the Creator has placed on this earth. I will continue to research as much of his performances, and music, as possible and recommend young aspiring artists to listen to his amazing talent. He leaves a rich legacy that the world can enjoy. Michel Petrucciani, a Miracle.”