Toots Thielemans has not only been the world’s greatest jazz harmonica player for the past 60 years but, for much of that period, he was also practically the world’s only jazz harmonica player. Preceded by Larry Adler (who played jazz on a part-time basis) among major figures, Thielemans originally made his living as a guitarist. However by the mid-1950s, his virtuosity on the harmonica began to overshadow his guitar playing and he has reigned supreme ever since, setting a standard that has still not been reached by anyone else. What other harmonica player could hold their own in a jam session with Oscar Peterson?
90 Yrs. includees both a CD and a DVD that celebrates Toots Thieleman’s recent 90th birthday. The CD is drawn from several concerts from 2006-11 and includes such Toots favorites as ‘Wave,” “The Dolphin,” “One Note Samba” and Paul Simon’s “I Do It For Your Love,” along with three of the harmonica player’s originals. He is teamed with pianist Karel Boehlee, bassist Hein Van de Geyn and drummer Hans Van Oosterhout.
The DVD has six selections from a 2011 club date with Thielemans enjoying himself playing such numbers as “Autumn Leaves,” “St. Thomas” and his biggest hit, “Bluesette.” He shows throughout both the CD and the DVD, that even at 90, he still has a lot to offer.
- Scott Yanow