JJ 06/93: Tete Montoliu – The Music I Like To Play, Volume Four

Thirty years ago, Graham Colombé found any passion in the Catalan pianist's music obscured by hyperactivity. First published in Jazz Journal June 1993

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Soul Note’s support for Montoliu has now extended to this fourth volume of his solo recitals. Refer­ring back to comments on earlier volumes I found that the reviewer of the first enjoyed the pianist’s ‘Catalan passion’ while the listener to the second soon found his attention wandering.

Leaving aside the difference between Cat­alan passion and the heart-on-sleeve variety you can rub up against in Andalucía I think my own limited attention span was a result of not registering any passion at all. Montoliu has energy and intensity and an appe­tite for his own kind of improvisa­tion but the hard surface of his music seems to keep feelings firmly buried.

Having chosen some attractive tunes he treats them in a perfunctory manner, quite failing for example to reveal the potential charm of Benny Golson’s rarely recorded Fair Weather. Once the melodies are dispensed with he plunges into choruses where the double (or quadruple) tempo runs other pianists use as decoration are his central inventions, so that the original tempos seem to be of little significance.

Only on the final Up Jumped Spring do the tune and its waltz tempo have a little space to breathe, but if you like hyperactive pianists don’t let me put you off this one.

Discography
Bluesology; Sophisticated Lady; The Way You Look Tonight; Soul Eyes; All The Things You Are; Nancy With The Laughing Face; Fair Weather; If I Should Lose You; Up Jumped Spring (49.03)
Tete Montoliu (p). Milan, January 28, 1990.
(Soul Note 121250-2)