Michel Petrucciani

Michel Petrucciani was a French jazz pianist and composer. Michel was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, which is a genetic disease that causes brittle bones and, in his case, short stature.

In Michel’s early career his father and brother occasionally carried him, literally, because he could not walk far on his own unaided. In certain respects though he considered his disability an advantage as he got rid of distractions, like sports, that other boys tended to become involved in.

Petrucciani gave his first professional concert at the age of 13. At this point of his life, he was still quite fragile and had to be carried to and from the piano. His size meant that he required aids to reach the piano’s pedals, but his hands were average in length. This had its advantages, however. At the beginning of his career, Petrucciani’s manager would often smuggle him into hotel rooms in a suitcase in a bid to save money.

Michel distinguished himself most obviously from his primary inspiration in that he lacked Bill Evans’ cerebral approach to the piano. Petrucciani’s interest was primarily in simply playing; he spent little time reharmonizing or arranging.

Stylistically, Petrucciani is most frequently compared to Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett for his lyricism and Oscar Peterson for his virtuosity. His playing was often quite dramatic; critics accuse him of over-indulgence and cheap showmanship; sometimes dismiss his music as being too accessible. Petrucciani was loose and playful in a rhythm section, and gave attention to a strong articulation of the melody. He sometimes paused at the peaks of his solo lines before descending again, as if in appreciation of his idea.

Listen to this track called “September Second”:

And also see him on a solo live performance from 1993:

Monty Alexander

Bringing Jazz back to the Roots!

Montgomery Bernard Alexander was born on June 6, 1944 in Kingston, Jamaica. He discovered the piano at the age of 4; started with classical music lessons 2 years later and then became interested in Jazz, the rest, as they say is history.

Alexander recorded with Milt Jackson in 1969, with Ernest Ranglin in 1974 and in Europe the same year with Ed Thigpen. He toured regularly in Europe and recorded there, mostly with his classic trio for MPS Records.

Alexander has also played with several singers such as Ernestine Anderson, Mary Stallings and other important leaders (Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, Jimmy Griffin and Frank Morgan). In his successive trios, he has played frequently with musicians associated with Oscar Peterson: Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, Mads Vinding, Ed Thigpen and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen.

In the mid-seventies he formed a group consisting of John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums, creating a stir in the jazz-scene in Europe. Their most famous collaboration (and arguably Alexander’s finest album) is Montreux Alexander, recorded during the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 1976.

He formed a reggae band in the 1990s, featuring all Jamaican musicians, and he has released several reggae albums, including Yard Movement (1996), Stir It Up (1999, a collection of Bob Marley songs), Monty Meets Sly & Robbie (2000), and Goin’ Yard (2001). He collaborated again with Ernest Ranglin in 2004 on the album Rocksteady.

Check out this brilliant performance live at Jazz A Vienne in 2010, goes from Jazz to Reggae, to Dub to Latin, it is amazing!

If you rather see him performing Jazz, check him out with his Trio:

If you want to find out more about Monty visit his Website.