Vicente Montoliu Massana, was born in Barcelona Spain in 1933.The son of a Barcelona symphony woodwinds player, he was born sightless. When he was seven, there were two events that shaped his life: he learned to read music in Braille and he heard recordings by Duke Ellington. Montoliu studied classical piano at the Barcelona Conservatory, and was known as a local piano sensation.
His early interest in jazz was further stimulated when the great saxophonist Don Byas lived for a time in the Montoliu home. By age 17, Montoliu was leading jam sessions at a Barcelona theater.He made his international debut when he was invited on a European tour by Lionel Hampton in 1955, and in 1956 he recorded with the band