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Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Jean Babtiste “Toots” Thielemans (1922 – 2016) - # 2
gives his account of the career of Toots Thielemans. The article is in two
parts, first part is accessible here, below follows the second part.
Thielemans, the genius on the harmonica
- Part 2
Toots and his harmonica
Because he could join the studio group of
ABC-Television, this generated more money than the preceeding years playing all
the time. His creativity soon showed out and in the film “Midnight Cowboy” –
made in 1969 – his background improvisations can be heard till the end.
From about 1970 Thielemans divided his time
between studio activities and playing Jazz. However, in those years he also
performed with well-known singers out of the world of entertainment such as Peggy Lee, Quincy Jones, Bill Evans,
but also Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon –
and not to forget: Jazz piano player Herbie
In 1972 Jean even made a tour in Russia. In
the same year he composed music for the movie “The Getaway” and in ’75 he
performed with Oscar Peterson in
Montreux so that he can be reckoned to the best Jazzmen of that time. And….his versality
enabled him to give lessons at the “Eastman School of Music”, At this famous
American Institute for Music in New Yersey one can study Classical music as
well as Jazz.
Still maintaining his independancy in the Eighties,
he can often be found in European countries where he performed e.g. with the
Swedish lady singer Sylvia Vrethammer.
Toots and Sivuca outside Chiko's Bar, Brazil
Amazing is that Jean also travelled to Brazil
where he played with the legendary and world famous accordionist Sivuca a.o.. “Toots” showed great affinity to the ‘bossa nova’ and
liked to make long improvisations on its typical rhythm and the beautiful
diminished chords. Yet he found also time to jam with Jazz musicians overthere.
Toots in high spirits with his beloved instrument
Healso often visitedSweden, as known, a jazz-minded country. When he gave
concerts, he used to speak to the
audience in the Swedish language which made him highly popular. In a Belgian
documentary one can feel the atmosphere he creates when announcing and
performing. But he always had contact with his listeners, wherever he gave his
He whistles, plays guitar and harmonica in a unparalleled
way, performs with Shirley Horn, made
‘jingles’ and tunes for TV commercials.
Moreover he composes and takes care of the music for the highly popular children
series “Sesam Street”.
The most astonishing in allthose activities is that he never choose an
easy way in bringing his music. He was not afraid to play the most difficult
melodic lines. Moreover his playing, very much based on the bebop,mainly inspired
by JohnColtrane, is also easy
accessible to the modern electronic way of listening to music.
To end this survey on the career of “Toots”
Thielemans, l’ll insert a video showcasting a lengthy live performance by this
great artist. The video was recorded at the Hague Jazz Festival in 2010 and
features “Toots” Thielemans’ Quartet – enjoy!
thanks to Eddy Determeijer and Jef Van Gool for their photos
additional info is most welcome, contact
me at firstname.lastname@example.org