BiographyMontoliu was born blind, in the Eixample district of Barcelona, and died in the same city. He was the only son of Vicenç Montoliu (a professional musician) and Àngela Massana, a jazz enthusiast, who encouraged her son to study piano. Montoliu's first experimenting with the piano took place under the tuition of Enric Mas at the private school for blind children that he attended from 1939 to 1944. In 1944, Montoliu's mother arranged for Petri Palou to provide him with formal piano lessons.From 1946 to 1953 Montoliu studied music at the Conservatori Superior de Música de Barcelona, where he also met jazz musicians and became familiar with the idiom in jam sessions. During the early stages of his career, Montoliu was particularly influenced by the music of U. S. jazz pianist Art Tatum, although he soon developed a distinctive style, characterised by musical sensitivity and technical skill. Montoliu began playing professionally at pubs in Barcelona, where he was noticed by Lionel Hampton on 13 March 1956. Montoliu toured with Hampton through Spain and France and recorded Jazz flamenco, setting off a prolific international career.In the 1960s, Montoliu played in various concerts at New York and established collaborations with drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Richard Davis. During the 1970s, Montoliu travelled extensively throughout Europe, consolidating his reputation as a main referent in the hard bop movement. During the 1980s, he played in numerous concerts, collaborating with jazz players such as Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Joe Henderson, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Hank Jones, Roy Hargrove, and Jesse Davis, among others.In 1996, shortly before his death, Spain paid public tribute to Montoliu for his fifty-year career in jazz.