Tete Montoliu / March 28, 1933 - Aug 24, 1997

The Catalan pianist Tete Montoliu was born in 1933 in Barcelona. He came from a musical family that had Don Byas as a housemate in the family home. Blind since birth, he learned to read Braille music.

Influenced by Art Tatum and Duke Ellington, he came out of the conservatory and started touring with Lionel Hampton in '55 and proceeded to become one of the top jazz players in Europe, eventually gaining a solid reputation internationally. He cut a lot of solo records, sometimes played with vocalists or in duo format (with saxophonist George Coleman, for example) but often could be found in the trio format. Reputedly, a '67 live date in NYC with Elvin Jones & Richard Davis was slated for release on Impulse! but has not seen the light of day.

His playing style was brisk and vital, one of Europe's best technicians on jazz piano. He was at home with standards, blues, ballads and Latin material, while also being informed by his Catalan roots. He worked with Kenny Dorham, Roland Kirk, Ben Webster, Archie Shepp, Anthony Braxton (In The Tradition), Eddie Harris, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Mariano, Tootie Heath and many more visiting American musicians. His chops remained right til the end.

Tete playing solo from Music For Perla (Steeplechase, recorded '74):

And here he is in a trio with NHØP & Tootie Heath, on a flying rendition of "Giant Steps":

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published