Tete Montoliu / Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen

Catalonian Fire

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Tete Montoliu spent most of his career recording for various European-based record labels, with some of his best work appearing on Steeplechase, such as this trio session with bassist Niels Pedersen and drummer Tootie Heath. Montoliu chose his rhythm section well, because both of these musicians respond well to an aggressive pianist like their leader, providing both strong support and lively interplay. The program is dominated by standards, including a rather abstract take of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" and an extended workout of "Falling in Love With Love" with a Latin rhythm. "Old Folks" starts with an unusual solo introduction that is both eerie and playful; Pedersen's countermelody is sparse and effective. Montoliu's sole original, "Blues for Perla," also stands out. The date concludes with a freewheeling exploration of Charlie Parker's "Au Privave," with the leader occasionally leaning toward an avant-garde sound in places. Recommended.

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