Monday Notes

Michel Petrucciani, Estate. A piece by Bruno Martino in the jazz repertoire

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Leggi in Italiano

[Monday Notes no. 106] Estate is the only Italian piece to have permanently entered the repertoire of jazz standards, to the point of being included in one of the famous Real Books, the sheet music collections dedicated to jazz music. The piece was written by Bruno Martino, the most famous international performers were Joao Gilberto, Chet Baker and the French pianist Michel Petrucciani. Let’s listen to the latter’s interpretation.

The piece gives its title to a 1982 album in which the 20-year-old Michel Petrucciani is accompanied by Furio di Castri (double bass) and Aldo Romano (drums). So there is a lot of Italian in this record, after all Petrucciani himself had Italian origins.

Estate - Michel Petrucciani booklet

In Bruno Martino’s first version in 1960, the piece had the classic AABA form of 32 measures, whereas in jazz performances it took on an odd-numbered form. This variation was introduced by Joao Gilberto who cut out one measure and then doubled the duration of each section, thus taking the verse from 8 to 7 measures, and then from 7 to 14. This arrangement was then adopted by all, including Michel Petrucciani.

The jazz repertoire consists almost entirely of regular-form pieces, mainly of 32 measures. In this case, however, the regular form has been abandoned, a very unusual circumstance.

Estate - Michel Petrucciani, parte prima
The first part of Estate has a duration of 14 measures

Joao Gilberto also introduced some chord changes in part [B], which in Bruno Martino’s original was decidedly less interesting. Here are the chords that Joao Gilberto chose, and which have since become the chords played by almost all jazz musicians.

Estate - Michel Petrucciani, parte seconda
The second part of the song [B] with the chords introduced by Joao Gilberto

Michel Petrucciani was a much loved pianist, some critics consider him overrated yet his lyricism is undisputed. I personally really appreciate his early records, in this performance I like the way the pianist enhances each note of the theme.

Even in the improvisation (2’15”), his phrasing is very relaxed and essential, only in the final part (3’59”) he launches into a fast phrase, a burst of notes that arrives somewhat unexpectedly, and very beautiful.

Estate is thus a song by Bruno Martino, the chords and the form, however, are those decided by Joao Gilberto. Here we have analysed Michel Petrucciani’s interpretation. Jazz is above all an ever-expanding repertoire where everyone can express himself. Provided he has something to say, of course.

Until next Monday!

Download the lead sheet of Estate

Listen to the version of Estate that Michel Petrucciani played at Umbria Jazz in 1993. Thanks to Roberto for the suggestion!

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