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Toots Thielemans Biography

Toots Thielemans Tickets

Toots Thielemans In-depth Biography

Although preceded by Larry Adler} (who has actually spent much of his career playing popular and classical} music), Toots Thielemans} virtually introduced the chromatic harmonica as a jazz} instrument. In fact, ever since the mid-'50s, he has had no close competitors. Toots} simply plays the harmonica with the dexterity of a saxophonist and has even successfully traded off with the likes of Oscar Peterson}.

Toots Thielemans}' first instrument was the accordion, which he started when he was three. Although he started playing the harmonica when he was 17, Thielemans}' original reputation was made as a guitarist who was influenced by Django Reinhardt}. Very much open to bop}, Thielemans} played in American GI clubs in Europe, visited the U.S. for the first time in 1947, and shared the bandstand with Charlie Parker} at the Paris Jazz Festival} of 1949. He toured Europe as a guitarist with the Benny Goodman Sextet} in 1950, and the following year moved to the U.S. During 1953-1959, Toots} was a member of the George Shearing} quintet (mostly as a guitarist) and has freelanced ever since. He first recorded his big hit "Bluesette"} (which featured his expert whistling and guitar) in 1961, and ever since has been greatly in demand (particularly for his harmonica and his whistling) on pop} records (including many dates with Quincy Jones}) and as a jazz} soloist. Toots}' two-volume Brasil Project} was popular in the 1990s and found him smoothly interacting on harmonica with top Brazilian musicians. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

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