Toots Thielemans Live, with the European Quartet – Challenge

by | Feb 24, 2011 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Toots Thielemans Live, with the European Quartet – Challenge CHR70160 [Distr. by Allegro] *****:

(Toots Thielemans, harmonica; Karel Boehlee, piano & synthesizer; Hein Van de Geyn, doublebass; Hans van Oosterhout, drums)

Toots Thielemans is surely the most famous jazz harmonica player in the world today. He could already play the accordion at age three and took up the harmonica as a hobby His early musical idol was Django Reinhardt. He’s played with Charlie Parker’s All Stars, with Benny Goodman, and George Shearing, among others. He’s done many film scores, including the harmonica solo heard in Midnight Cowboy. He created the effect of whistling at the same time he played his guitar. This album is a compendium of some of this best live performances with his band in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Toots may be a senior now, but his music is still full of the exuberance of youth.  He balances the introspective against the wild and wooly. His virtuosity on the lowly harmonica is amazing to hear.  He can really make it swing, and his longtime three band members work perfectly with him in these recordings. These easy-going arrangements made me think of the later recordings of Stephane Grappelli.  They can be alternately background-listening smooth jazz or for in-depth serious listening as well.


I Loves You Porgy, Summertime, Comecar de Novo, The Days of Wine and Roses, Circle of Smile, Round Midnight, Les Feuilles Mortes, Theme from Midnight Cowboy, On Green Dolphin Street, Ne Me Quitte Pas, Bluesette, For My Lady.

 — John Henry

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