JJ 08/81: Tete Montoliu Trio at Ronnie Scott’s

Forty years ago, Mike Hennessey saw the Catalan pianist meet Richard Williams' assessment, if not helped much by his British rhythm section. First published in Jazz Journal August 1981

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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.

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