Tete Montoliu / Peter King Quartet: New Year’s Morning ’89

A fiery bebop session from the Cova del Drac in Barcelona, with the 17-year-old Gerard Presencer well up to the pace of the older men

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Recorded in the early hours of January 1989 at the Cova del Drac club in Barcelona, this is a terrific, in the moment, snapshot of some wonderful bebop music. Before this took place, 17-year old trumpeter Gerard Presencer had been playing all over Barcelona with The Tete Montoliu Trio. Peter King arrived on 29 December to fulfil Tete’s wish that they perform together, and a spontaneous decision was taken to feature both King and Presencer.

For a first time performance together, it achieves astonishing levels of virtuosity and integration of ideas. To listen to the set, you’d think everyone had been playing together for years. King is on blistering form. There is a throwaway genius to his seemingly endless runs up and down the sax on pretty much every track. His playing is tinged with that tangy bite he often brought to some of his phrasing in order to take the music in different directions.

Presencer isn’t at all phased by this, matching King with some wonderful solos, notably on Lover Man. Montoliu has a lovely, bluesy style to his playing, perfectly suited to the swinging nature of the set that unfolds, and Fumero and Wyboris glue the whole set together with some relentless, pulsing work on bass and drums. Only Autumn Leaves, a ruminative song about ageing and loss, seems ill-suited to the bebop treatment it receives as part of a set dominated by free-blowing and in-the-moment improvisation.

A few more ballads would have been nice, but it clearly wasn’t that sort of an evening. Rousing, raw, fiery stuff from all concerned, and a memorable way to start 1989.

Discography
Bag’s Groove; Four: ’Round Midnight; Oleo; Weaver Of Dreams; Stella By Starlight; Lover Man; Autumn Leaves; Tete’s Closing Blues (70.34)
Montoliu (p); King (as); Gerard Presencer (t); Horacio Fumero (b); Peer Wyboris (d). Cova del Drac, Barcelona 1 January 1989.
Fresh Sound Records FSR-CD 5052