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Tête à Tete

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Album Review

Tete Montoliu's fourth CD for Steeplechase is primarily a fun-filled trio date with bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath, frequent collaborators with the blind pianist. The influence of Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson is evident in his rollicking take of "What's New?" There are some tour de force solo features for the pianist, including Kenny Dorham's "Scandia Skies," one of the late trumpeter's best but still not widely known compositions, and a dramatic, almost dancing arrangement of Billy Strayhorn's moody ballad "Lush Life." Finally, the 20-minute "Catalan Suite" is a medley of five traditional folk songs from Montoliu's homeland, featuring the trio and as well as a fine solo by Pedersen; it's a shame one can't hear the words that accompany these joyous melodies. This is an essential CD for fans of the late Tete Montoliu.


Born: 28 March 1933 in Barcelona, Spain

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

An outstanding veteran pianist from Spain, Tete Montoliu was born blind. He learned to read music in Braille when he was seven and developed impressive technique on piano. He recorded with Lionel Hampton in 1956, had his first session as a leader in 1958, and played with the touring Roland Kirk in 1963. Through the years, he also worked with such visiting Americans as Kenny Dorham, Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster, Lucky Thompson, and even Anthony Braxton. Tete Montoliu's visits to the U.S. were very infrequent,...
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Tête à Tete, Tete Montoliu
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