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December 28   -   On An Overgrown Path

The joy of jazz

That is Michel Petrucciani in the photo; he made his first appearance On An Overgrown Path eleven years ago and in 2016 I derived many hours of listening pleasure from the 7 CD anthology Michel Petrucciani: The Blue Note Albums. Despite suffering from the genetic disorder bone disorder osteogenensis imperfecta which limited his height to 3' 0" [ 0.91 m ] Michel Petrucciani became a renowned jazz pianist. Originally influenced by Bill Evans and to a lesser extent Keith Jarrett, he went on to develop his own unique voice - watch a full length concert video via this link. Michel Petrucciani died in 1999 aged just 36 and is buried alongside Frederic Chopin in Paris' Père Lachaise cemetery. Michel Petrucciani's resting place acknowledges the close links between jazz and classical music, and there are notable examples of the influence of jazz. George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue was originally commissioned for solo piano and jazz band by Paul Whiteman, and only later orchestrated by Ferde Grofé. Dave Brubeck studied with Darius Milhaud, and György Ligeti acknowledged the influence of Bill Evans and Thelonius Monk on his Études for Piano. André Previn has recorded a number of successful jazz albums; his 1956 My Fair Lady with Shelly Manne and Leroy Vinnegar became a best-selling jazz albums. At around the same time Randy Weston's jazz trio was resident at the Music Inn resort in the Berkshires and its audience included Leonard Bernstein and musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The trio's bassist was the African American musician Sam Gill, who went on to become principal bass for the Denver Symphony. Leonard Bernstein championed jazz, and on his 1956 Columbia spoken word LP "What Is Jazz?" he argued against the critics who preached that jazz has low-class origins, is loud, and is therefore not art. But six decades later the barriers between Western classical music and jazz are still there. Supposedly we live in more inclusive times; but inclusivity is becoming increasingly politically correct, which means it is no more than inverted exclusivity. Much futile effort is expended on attracting new audiences into our concert halls. Yet jazz - music that can be loud and avoids the perceived elitism that dogs classical music - is still virtually ignored. Michel Legrand, who worked with many of jazz greats, has an uncompromising view*: When it came time for [John Coltrane] to solo, he integrated himself thoroughly into my arrangements without sacrificing one note of his own conceptions. I thought about that later, after I followed Coltrane's career through Ascension and Meditations. I began to draw parallels with his music and that of some classical composers I knew, Luciano Berio and Luigi Nono. To me, both jazz and classical music have the same goal. There should be no lines of demarcation between them, for the end result should simply be - good music. * Quote is from Chasin'the Trane by J.C. Thomas. Header photo via No review samples used in this post. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). No review samples used in this post. Also on Facebook and Twitter.

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