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Michel Petrucciani

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Orange, France (1962 – 1999)

Michel Petrucciani (December 28, 1962, Orange, France – January 6, 1999, Manhattan), was a French pianist.

Michel Petrucciani came from a Franco-Italian family of a musical background. At an early age he became enthusiastic about the works of Duke Ellington and wished to become a pianist like him. Although he trained for years as a pianist, jazz remained his interest. He had his first professional concert at 13. At this point in his life he was still quite fragile so had to be carried to and from the piano. Michel Petrucciani was born with osteogenesis imperfecta which is a genetic condition that causes brittle bones and in his case short stature. It is also often linked to pulmonary ailments. In general his size meant that he required aids to reach the piano’s pedals, but his hands were average in length.
By age 18 he helped form a successful trio. He moved to the US in 1982. In the US he is credited with leading Charles Lloyd to resume playing actively and in 1986 he did an album with Wayne Shorter. He also played with diverse figures in the US jazz scene including Dizzy Gillespie.

He is one of the first, if not the only, French musicians to sign with Blue Note Records. In 1994 he was made a knight of the Légion d’honneur in Paris.

His own style would be influenced by Bill Evans although some compare him to Keith Jarrett. He is often deemed to be among the best jazz pianists to ever come from France.

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