As Richard Williams has observed, Montoliu is a far more interesting pianist today than Oscar Peterson – harmonically more resourceful, more given to subtle humour and with a greater range of mood and tonal colour. Though he has developed in sophistication and technical command over the years, he remains a player of instinct and impulse and his dexterity and clarity of execution are tools waiting to do the bidding of his inventive mind.
He has always been noted for having a discriminating ear for excellent tunes – ballads such as You’ve Changed and Crazy He Calls Me were beautifully played – and he is also a powerful and mercurial interpreter of up-tempo blues.
Unfortunately he was not too well-served by his English colleagues on the night under review. Much though I respect bassist Kenny Baldock and drummer Tony Crombie, they were a long way from achieving the sort of compatibility that a player of Montoliu’s calibre has a right to expect. Somehow it didn’t jell.
A better rapport between soloist and backing was achieved by Ernestine Anderson, opposite; a most accomplished and assured singer who was supported by Dave MacRae on keyboards, Jim Richardson on bass and Clive Thacker on drums. Miss Anderson injected some fairly well-worn standards with much new vitality and scored impressively with a funky I Think You Made Your Move Too Soon.