Catalan Jazz

How did jazz and Barcelona meet?

From the 1920s to the 1960s, major American Jazz artists regularly visited Barcelona, spreading their musical influence and helping to develop the Catalans’ passion for Big Band, Swing, and Experimental music. Over time, traditional musicians from Barcelona became influenced by the melodies from across the Atlantic and started to develop their music in a similar style.


Tete Montoliu is the undisputed father of the Catalan Jazz movement. Born blind in Barcelona in 1933, Montoliu studied music in the city and followed his passion for Jazz, despite the genre being labeled as a negative foreign influence on a unified Spain by Franco’s fascist regime. The musical exchange between Montoliu and visiting American Jazz musicians through the 1940s and 1950s helped develop his already unique piano style and eventually paved the way for the internationally-renowned Catalan Jazz musicians of today.


It was in 1929 that the first Jazz-oriented club nights became major events in Barcelona, thanks to international visitors to the city’s Universal Exposition on the rocky mountain of Montjuïc.