Tete Montoliu Day

March 28, 1933 – August 24, 1997

A tribute to the brilliant Spanish jazz pianist

Pianist Vicenc “Tete” Montoliu Massana was born on March 28, 1933 in Catalonia Spain.

Born blind, Montoliu began playing piano when he was five, having extensive classical training.

By the early 1950s, Montoliu had switched to jazz and been inspired by Art Tatum, working in Barcelona clubs.

Discovered by Lionel Hampton in 1956, Montoliu toured and recorded with the vibraphonist that year.

He visited New York in the 1960s where he made a strong impression; in his career in addition to leading his own trio, he performed with such major artists as Rahsanna Roland Kirk, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Eddie Harris, Lucky Thompson, Johnny Griffin, Joe Henderson, Ben Webster and Roy Hargrove, impressing everyone with his brilliance.

Tete Montoliu performs a lengthy medley of Thelonious Monk songs at a festival in July 1995.

-Scott Yanow