A diminutive pianist handicapped by an obscure bone disease, Michel Petrucciani played and composed some of the best music in the 1980s and 1990s. The music is lyrical, romantic, intricate, and inventive. This is an artist who should never be overlooked.
‘Days of Wine and Roses’ is a two CD compilation of his first six albums. The songs on the first CD are compositions by either he or his drummer, Aldo Romano, while the second are standards such as Monk, Mancini, Ellington, and Rodgers and Hart. While Petrucciani is better known for his highly regarded later albums, this collection should be strongly considered as an introduction to this remarkable artist or simply a taste of what he did before he created "Solo Live," "Power of Three," and "Pianism."
Petrucciani’s ideational interpretation of ‘Round about Midnight’ may be the most remarkable piece on this album. The playing is deft and nuanced, yet retains the idiosyncratic architecture of Monk. But, this is not a replication of a set piece; Petrucciani wanders his own way through a neighborhood with beret askew gazing at the attractions, pondering the possibilities. On ‘I Hear a Rhapsody,’ alto saxophonist Lee Konitz provides a detached haunting voice to the warmth of Petrucciani’s accompaniment. The enchanting ‘There Will Never Be Another You’ is played as a duet with bassist Ron McClure. Petrucciani begins dissonantly alone, and then turns into both a seductive and antagonistically-charged dance for two.
For Petrucciani’s own compositions, the stronger pieces are those which he relies on understated emotion and is able to restrain his astonishing technique. ‘I Just Say Hello’ and ‘It’s What I Am Doing When I Miss You’ fall into this category. Both are introspective ballads performed with subtlety and grace reminiscent of Bill Evans. Romano’s ‘Amalgame’ and ‘Gattito’ are both compellingly abstract compositions played with dexterity filled with a rich fusion of color.