Tete Montoliu

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Tete Montoliu
Tete Montoliu-Bobby Hutcherson.jpg
Montoliu (left), with Bobby Hutcherson at Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz, California, 14 May 1984
Background information
Birth name Vicenç Montoliu i Massana
Born (1933-03-28)March 28, 1933
Catalonia, Spain
Died August 24, 1997(1997-08-24) (aged 64)
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Piano

Tete Montoliu (28 March 1933 – 24 August 1997) was a jazz pianist from Catalonia, Spain. Born blind, he learnt music in Braille at age seven. His real name was Vicenç Montoliu i Massana.[1] His styles varied from hard bop, through afro-cuban, world fusion, to post bop. He recorded with Lionel Hampton in 1956 and played with the touring Roland Kirk in 1963. He also worked with Kenny Dorham, Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster, Lucky Thompson, and Anthony Braxton. Tete Montoliu's recorded two albums in the US, and recorded for Enja and Soul Note.[2]


Montoliu was born blind, in the Eixample district of Barcelona, and died in the same city. He was the only son of Vicenç Montoliu (a professional musician) and Àngela Massana, a jazz enthusiast, who encouraged her son to study piano. Montoliu's first experimenting with the piano took place under the tuition of Enric Mas at the private school for blind children that he attended from 1939 to 1944. In 1944, Montoliu's mother arranged for Petri Palou to provide him with formal piano lessons.

From 1946 to 1953 Montoliu studied music at the Conservatori Superior de Música de Barcelona, where he also met jazz musicians and became familiar with the idiom in jam sessions. During the early stages of his career, Montoliu was particularly influenced by the music of U.S. jazz pianist Art Tatum, although he soon developed a distinctive style. Montoliu began playing professionally at pubs in Barcelona, where he was noticed by Lionel Hampton on 13 March 1956. Montoliu toured with Hampton through Spain and France and recorded Jazz Flamenco, setting off a prolific international career.

In the 1960s, Montoliu played in various concerts at New York and established collaborations with drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Richard Davis. During the 1970s, Montoliu travelled extensively throughout Europe, consolidating his reputation as a main referent in the hard bop movement. During the 1980s, he played in numerous concerts, collaborating with jazz players such as Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, George Coleman, Joe Henderson, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Hank Jones, Roy Hargrove, Idris Muhammad and Jesse Davis, among others.

In 1996, shortly before his death, Spain paid public tribute to Montoliu for his fifty-year career in jazz.[3]


  • 1965: A Tot Jazz (Fresh Sound)
  • 1965: A Tot Jazz Volume 2 (Concentric)
  • 1966: Elia Fleta con Tete Montoliu Trio (Concentric)
  • 1968: Piano for Núria (MPS)
  • 1969: Tete Montoliu Interpreta a Serrat (Discophon)
  • 1971: Body and Soul (Enja)
  • 1971: It's About Blues (Time)
  • 1971: Lush Life (SteepleChase)
  • 1971: That's All (SteepleChase)
  • 1971: Songs for Love (Enja)
  • 1971: Recordando a Line (Discophon)
  • 1973: Temas Latinoamericanos (Ensayo)
  • 1974: Catalonian Fire (SteepleChase)
  • 1974: Music for Perla (SteepleChase)
  • 1974: Tete! (SteepleChase)
  • 1974: Vampyria (BASF) with Jordi Sabatés
  • 1976: Tête à Tete (SteepleChase)
  • 1976: Tootie's Tempo (SteepleChase, released 1979)
  • 1976: Words of Love (SteepleChase, released 1978)
  • 1977: Blues for Myself (Ensayo)
  • 1977: Meditation (Timeless) with George Coleman
  • 1977: Yellow Dolphin Street (Timeless)
  • 1977: Secret Love (Timeless)
  • 1977: Boleros (Ensayo)
  • 1978: Catalonian Folksongs (Timeless)
  • 1979: Al Palau (Zeleste-Edigsa)
  • 1979: Live at the Keystone Corner (Timeless, released 1981)
  • 1979: Lunch in L.A. (Contemporary)
  • 1980: Boston Concert Volume 1 (Timeless, released 1997)
  • 1980: Boston Concert Volume 2 (Timeless, released 1997)
  • 1980: I Wanna Talk About You (SteepleChase)
  • 1980: Catalonian Nights Volume 1 (SteepleChase, released 1989)
  • 1980: Catalonian Nights Volume 2 (SteepleChase, released 1989)
  • 1980: Catalonian Nights Volume 3 (SteepleChase, released 1998)
  • 1982: Face to Face (SteepleChase, released 1984) with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen
  • 1986: The Music I Like to Play Vol. 1 (Soul Note)
  • 1986: The Music I Like to Play Vol. 2 (Soul Note, released 1989)
  • 1988: Orquestra Taller de Músics de Barcelona amb Tete Montoliu (Justine)
  • 1989: New Year's Morning '89 (Fresh Sound) with Peter King
  • 1989: Sweet 'n Lovely 1 (Fresh Sound, released 1991) with Mundell Lowe
  • 1989: Sweet 'n Lovely 2 (Fresh Sound, released 1991) with Mundell Lowe
  • 1990: The Music I Like to Play Vol. 3: Let's Call This (Soul Note)
  • 1990: The Music I Like to Play Vol. 4 (Soul Note, released 1992)
  • 1990: The Man from Barcelona (Timeless)
  • 1991: A Spanish Treasure (Concord)
  • 1992: Catalonian Rhapsody (Alfa)
  • 1992: Music for Anna (Mas i Mas)
  • 1995: Tete en la Trompetilla: En Vivo (SRP Discos)
  • 1995: Tete Montoliu en El San Juan (Nuevos Medios)
  • 1996: Montoliu Plays Tete (DiscMedi)
  • 1996: Tete Montoliu (DiscMedi)
  • 2014: Serrat Encanta: Tete Montoliu Interpreta a Serrat (DiscMedi)

As sideman[edit]

With Anthony Braxton

With Núria Feliu

  • Núria Feliu with Booker Ervin (Edigsa, 1965) with Booker Ervin

With Dexter Gordon

  • Cheese Cake (SteepleChase, 1964 [1979])
  • King Neptune (SteepleChase, 1964 [1979])
  • I Want More (SteepleChase, 1964 [1980])
  • Love For Sale (SteepleChase, 1964 [1981])
  • It's You or No One (SteepleChase, 1964 [1983])
  • Billie's Bounce (SteepleChase, 1964 [1983])
  • Bouncin' with Dex (SteepleChase, 1976)

With Eddie Harris

  • Steps Up (SteepleChase, 1981)

With Rahsaan Roland Kirk

With Charlie Mariano

  • It's Standard Time Volume 1 (Fresh Sound)
  • It's Standard Time Volume 2 (Fresh Sound)

With Jordi Sabatés

  • Tot l'Enyor de Dema (Edigsa, 1976)

With Archie Shepp and Lars Gullin

With Buddy Tate

  • Tate a Tete (Storyville, 1975)

With Ben Webster

  • Ben Webster Meets Don Byas (MPS, 1968) with Don Byas
  • Ben Webster in Hot House (Hot House, 1972 [1979])
  • Gentle Ben (Ensayo, 1972)


  1. ^ Allmusic
  2. ^ "Tete Montoliu Biography". Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "Cincuenta años de un genio cercano" El País. 11 March 1996. http://elpais.com/diario/1996/03/11/cultura/826498804_850215.html

External links[edit]