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Playground (1991)

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Adam Holzman

Pianist Michel Petrucciani, who during the early part of his career was heavily influenced by Bill Evans, gradually developed his own sound. By 1991 he was using Adam Holzman on synthesizer with his quintet (which on this date also includes bassist Anthony Jackson, drummer Omar Hakim and percussionist Steve Thornton) to play colors behind his piano. In addition, Petrucciani was backed by funky rhythms and emphasized his own original compositions. Rather than selling out to blatant commercialism, Petrucciani had actually found his own voice within the "contemporary" setting. The music on his CD is of consistently high quality (despite a few too many fadeouts). Highlights include "Miles Davis' Licks" (a blues that utilizes some of Davis' late-period nursery rhyme melodies), the intense "Brazilian Suite #3," a playful jam on "Laws of Physics" and the Keith Jarrett-ish "P'tit Louis." Actually, all 11 of Michel Petrucciani's originals are worth hearing and, despite the brief playing time (39 minutes) of this CD, it is recommended. ~ Scott Yanow