- Category : Entertain-Music-Instrumentalist
- Type : PE
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Service 4
French pianist and composer who transcended the physical handicap of being a dwarf to work with established musicians, including saxophonists Lee Konitz and Charles Lloyd, but who was particularly noted for his passionate and extroverted solos. Petrucciani won several awards including 1983’s "Jazz Man of the Year" and "Best European Jazz Musician," and his album, "100 Hearts," 1984, won the Grand Prix du Disque, the equivalent of a Grammy.
One of three children born to Sicilian jazz guitarist, Antoine Petrucciani, and his French wife, Anne, he grew up with his brothers, Phillipe and Louis, in Montelimar in a home filled with music. He played along with the family band on a toy drum set, but a Duke Ellington concert seen on television when he was four years old awakened his interest in the piano. As a result, his father gave him a toy piano, but finding it didn’t sound like the real thing, Petrucciani smashed it with a hammer. His next piano was a battered discard from a local military base and by the time he was seven, his playing had improved to the point that his father brought home a better instrument, and for the next eight years, he studied classical piano. At age 13, he made his first professional appearance at an outdoor jazz festival in Cliouclat, France, and at age 17, he moved to Paris where he recorded his first album, "Flash."
By his own account, Petrucciani "barely survived" life in Paris where he encountered drugs and weird women, so he moved to New York, paying his way by writing a bad check. In 1982, he traveled to California where he met Charles Lloyd. They performed together at the Montreux International jazz Festival and won the Prix d’excellence. In 1983, he performed at the Carnegie Recital Hall.
While living in California, he met Erlinda, a woman from New Mexico, and they married.
Petrucciani was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, more commonly known as ‘glass bones disease.’ As a result, his growth was stunted, and he stood only three feet tall, weighing 65 pounds. He had to be carried on stage for his performances, but despite his small size, he played the full span of the keyboard on the grand piano, and with the help of an extender, he fully employed the foot pedals. Although he suffered literally hundreds of bone fractures during his life, his personal philosophy was to have a good time and never to let anything stop him from doing what he wanted. During his performances, he created a strong bond with his audiences and any awareness of his handicaps virtually ceased to exist. His illness eventually resulted in his death on 1/05/1999.