Toots Thielemans died, Monday august 22, in Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium, at the age of 94.
With him disappears the jazz player, the « King », globally recognized by his peers : Quincy Jones, Charlie Parker, Benny Goodman, George Shering, Oscar Peterson, Dizzi Gillespie, and many others.
Jean Baptiste Frederic, Isodore, Thielemans was born in Brussel, Belgium on 29 April 1922. His parents owned a cafe at Marolles district.
Of his childhood, he will regulary play with a small accordion popular songs of these years, before discovering the chromatic harmonica. At the age of 17 he made his debuts with this instrument during the second World War. He will improve his game to listen to Django Reinhardt records, which will mark him deeply. After the war he adopted the name of Toots, more modern and more « American » than his first name.
In 1961, he recorded the title « Bluesette » which will be sold overtime to millions of copies, in wich he shows his talent as a guitarist and the more unexpected, Whistler, which will bring him international fame. Therefore recognized in jazz circles throughout the world, Toots multiplies the recording sessions an concerts, tours, to the side of prestigious musicians. He leaves us an impressive discography.
I remember a duo occured in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1980, which took part Toots with Dizzi Gilespie. Magic duo into the background of a Leman lake bathed in a full Moon inviting to the concert... Memories are made of this.
In 2001, « Ket » (his nickname in Belgium), already honorary doctorate of free University of Brussels, was Knighhted and made Baron by King Albert II.
Toots but left us, his pretty little waltz is now an orphan... Kiss to Bluesette*
We miss you already Toots.
I adress my very sincere condolences to his wife, Huguette, and members of his family, which I associate my Harmonica friends.
*I composed « Kiss to Bluesette » dedicated to him, appearing in my last CD
Published August 30th 2016