• Toots90: Thielemans at Jazz at Lincoln Center Tonight and Tomorrow

    September 28, 2012. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Add new comment | Filed under: Jazz Alive

    Stack of Toots booksIf it's not too late, get a ticket!

    Not long ago, it seemed to me that  Toots Thielemans might have made his last trip to the United States. In March, 2011, we recorded him for JazzSet at the Kennedy Center.

    Listen to the JazzSet here

    After that, he was scheduled for the Blue Note, but due to fatigue, canceled some of those shows.

    Then a year later (May, 2012)  for his 90th birthday, he made an multi-city tour of his home country, Belgium. I was lucky to visit Dinant and Brussels for the national celebration of Toots.  In the bookstore at the museum of musical instruments, I saw this stack of commemorative books.

    I came home and wrote about The Harmonica-Playing Baron of Belgium and the Toots90 concert in Brussels for NPR's A Blog Supreme:

    ". . . four of Toots' first five tunes were recorded by Miles Davis in a short span: 'On Green Dolphin Street' (1958), 'All Blues' (early 1959), 'I Loves You, Porgy' and 'Summertime' (both 1958, for Porgy and Bess). 'Days of Wine and Roses' was the other number. . . .  [T]hough he's streamlined his playing, 30 years later he still sounds tuneful, optimistic, willing to soar.

    "When [pianist Kenny]Werner and [guitarist Oscar] Castro-Neves came to the stage — excitement! embraces! — they brought shades of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Hollywood as they played 'How High the Moon' (a samba, thanks to Castro-Neves), 'All the Way' (Werner on synthesizer, interpolating 'My Way'), and the theme to Midnight Cowboy, an eight-note melody that circles and haunts. Indeed, Thielemans played it on the soundtrack [to the movie]."

    That was the Brussels concert. Tonight and tomorrow in New York, the Brazilians Eliane Elias and Dori Caymmi will be onstage, along with Herbie Hancock, Kenny Werner, Oscar Castro-Neves, and the center of attention, the heart of the matter -- the wonderfully resilient, determined, most musical nonagenarian, Toots Thielemans.

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