Trio in Tokyo

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Dreyfus
ALBUM TITLE: Michel Petrucciani
PERFORMER: Michel Petrucciani (p), Steve Gadd (d), Anthony Jackson (b)
CATALOGUE NO: FDM 36605-2 (distr. New Note)

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The late Michel Petrucciani combined the stillness in note delivery of Bill Evans with the two-handed forward momentum of McCoy Tyner. Add to that a drummer’s rhythmic sensibility and a mischievous way with quotations and you’re getting close to the Frenchman’s unique appeal in a live show. By any benchmark he was an awesome pianist.

When I heard this same combo at Brecon Jazz I was bowled over by the sheer energy generated by three apparently serene players: Jackson seated, his electric bass burbling forth, Gadd carefully choosing different components of his kit to hit, and the leader calmly marshalling an express train of Ellingtonia.

This posthumous release, taken from a 1997 show at the Blue Note club in Tokyo, concentrates on the gentler side of the group’s repertoire. All the material bar one number consists of Petrucciani originals.

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The last, Miles Davis’s ‘So What’, encapsulates much of what made Petrucciani special: his use of variable tempo and exuberant harmonic changes to fill a tune to overflowing. So the only possible criticism of this disc is that it sounds like he’s just getting started. GB