Tete Montoliu learned to read music in Braille as a boy, and after listening to recordings by pianists Bud Powell and Art Tatum he learned to put a European twist on bop piano.
Born blind in 1933 in Barcelona, Spain, Montoliu began performing at age 13. Through the '50s he toured European jazz festivals, playing with Lionel Hampton, Ben Webster and multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk. A series of New York shows in the late '60s established Montoliu's reputation for technical brilliance. His abilities were documented on records he made for SteepleChase in the '70s, including That's All (1971) and Tete! (1974). The pianist continued to perform and record, most often with trios, throughout the '80s and up until his 1997 death from lung cancer.
Other birthdays Tuesday: Paul Whiteman, 1891; Thad Jones, 1923; Ike Isaacs, 1923; and Eric Dixon, 1930.