CD: Toots Thielemans

Toots Thielemans, Yesterday & Today (Out Of The Blue)

Two CDs with thirty-eight tracks, most previously unreleased, follow Thielemans from 1946, when he was a 23-year-old guitarist with a Belgian swing band, to a 2001 harmonica performance of “What A Wonderful World” with pianist Kenny Werner. In the late 1940s and early ‘50s, when many European musicians were struggling with the style, Thielemans had a firm grasp of bebop. Playing through the decades with George Shearing, Hank Jones, J.J. Johnson, Elis Regina, Mulgrew Miller, Shirley Horn and a few dozen others, Thielemans is astonishing on both instruments, but it’s his harmonica that brings grins of joy.

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  1. Jim Brown says

    While we’re in a Toots bag, I’ve been enjoying a delightful DVD of Toots’ quartet in New Orleans. Fred Hersch, Harvie Swartz, and Adam Nussbaum are the rhythm section, and everything about the DVD is first rate — music, audio, video, and production. My impression is that the performance is from the 80s. The venue is credited as Lulu White’s Mahogany Hall. Amazon also lists “Bluesette Live,” released by a different company, which, based on at least one customer review, looks like it may be the same program. There’s also a NYU Jazz Master Class session with Toots, which I haven’t seen yet. Others in this series have been both well done and quite interesting.