Petrucciani had three things going for him as a jazz pianist. First, and without any fault of his own, he was French, which let's face it does give some kind of cultural background the counterparts on the other side of the ocean often lack.
Second he was trained as a classical pianist who gave him the right discipline, the technique and theoretical base to build on.
And the last point being a disabling genetic disease that rendered him not only short of physical stature but also fragile and hardly walking.
He considered it an advantage as he got rid of distractions, like sports, that other boys tended to become involved in.