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In Remembrance of: Benjamin Henry, Eva Burrell, Eric Paul Jackson, Bertha Smith, Leon Guitry, Jackie Hall
By Richard Henry on March 16, 2010

A look at the music of Michel Petrucciani

In 2006, the Christian Jacob Trio released a cd titled Contradictions: A look at the music of Michel Petrucciani. This album features arrangements of the music of the late Michel ‘Petrucciani featuring French jazz pianist Christian Jacob known for his clarity and lyricism and has been honored as “Top Collegiate Jazz Soloist”. The trio who is known for their superb arrangements have been together since the mid 1990s that consists of pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Trey Henry and drummer Ray Brinker. The trio along with vocalist Tierney Sutton has come out with a few albums including “I’m With the Band”, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2005. Now they come together without the renowned vocalist in this wonderful recreation of the genius of Michel Petrucciani in this 11 track album.

In the first track Looking Up, the piano introduction sets up the listener for a joyous, easy going yet constantly flowing journey. The playful trickling of inventive music ideas fits in nicely with the style and feel of the piece. This is a piece that you could listen to at a pleasant gathering guiding you through its optimistic ride through melody and chromaticism. Christian’s virtuosity is dazzling and breathtaking at moments kept afloat by the constant motion. The feel of this piece inspires hope for another sunny day in which one has good things to look forward to.

In this dreamy and reminiscent fourth track titled Colors a rhythmic and melodic delight is presented. The color of the varying flavor of the chords add an interesting element and never gets in the way to the otherwise constant right hand melody and ideas. All of the musical textures blend together creating a fantastic array of sound that just melts in your ears as if being on stage performing in crystal clarity and dark silence. One feels at times a dance element, giving even more life to this piece.

Elements of the blues shows up in the seventh track Rachid. Christian Jacob produces a very well defined blues sound and feel to go along with the cheerful mood. This piece provides a sentimental feeling as one who is holding to and cherishing something precious. Swing rhythms are present by the always consistent drummer. The bassist’s playing really speaks in a tone fitting for the overall character of the piece. Descending sixths confirms the cherished quality that is heard. Think Stevie Wonder and add the blues and two other jazz musicians and that’s what you get in this track.

The tenth track Brazilian Suite No. 2 is the second Latin style composition on this album. Going off to a relaxing enchanted place with cool breezes enter your mind as you hear the beginning. It never gets to dangerously daring for a piece of its style. Restaurant, cocktail style soloing gives you a starry night scene. The playing in this piece is gentle, careful and reminds you of a quiet evening with no distractions. The intensity does pick up as the piano plays in all of its brilliance. You never lose the dance feel either in the rhythm or the soloing. The peaceful tenderness returns towards the end and you know that you are in paradise.

The album Contradictions: A look at the music of Michel Petrucciani is worth a listen as you will hear some of the influence of Debussy. I feel that the mixture and diversity of the different styles of the pieces gives you many elements of jazz to listen to and you are once again reminded that jazz comes in all flavors and colors. The controlled intensity is appreciated as the musicians’ precious care of Michel Petrucciani’s music is done with absolute expertise. This is album is absolutely worth listening to.
-written by Richard Henry-

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