Michel Petrucciani: Hidden Joy
Michel Petrucciani (piano)
Promenade With Duke (Blue Note 80590-2)
Michel Petrucciani (piano).
Composed by Duke Ellington.
Recorded: New York City, date not given. Released 1993.
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
Story has it that Petrucciani at the age of four saw Duke Ellington perform on TV and demanded a piano. His parents mistakenly bought him a toy one for Xmas that he promptly destroyed, at which point they wisely got him the real thing. By 13, he was sitting in with Clark Terry at a French jazz festival. Fortunately, in a life tragically shortened to just 36 years by a genetic bone disorder, Petrucciani was given the opportunity to record a CD in tribute to Ellington (and Strayhorn). While he engrossingly covers expected tunes such as "Caravan," "Take the A Train," and "Satin Doll," it is his unveiling of two undeservedly obscure Ellington compositions, "Hidden Joy" and "One Night in the Hotel," that gives this program an added distinction.
Of the two rarities, "Hidden Joy" probably most begs for further revival to this day, although it's a close decision. Petrucciani plays the wistful melody with great sensitivity and emotional connectedness. Lustrous ostinatos, trills, and arpeggios, generous left-hand supporting figures, and sweeping runs are among the devices the pianist uses during his hearty improvisation to exhaustively explore the tune's appealing harmonies. Overall, Petrucciani's approach in the end might be characterized as being aggressively romantic with a more tender subtext, qualities that so often endeared him to listeners during his lifetime, and continue to do so today.
Reviewer: Scott Albin