base_image.jpegSpent this evening at the Barbican, where I had the almost infinite pleasure of witnessing Mr. Toots Thielemans, accompanied only by the piano of Mr. Fred Hersch. Spellbinding stuff. For anyone who’s been living under a rock, he’s the grand master of the harmonica and a genuine living legend. I find it hard to imagine that I haven’t managed to find the opportunity to see him in the flesh before now, these last 84 years or so..

Couldn’t help but ponder, while Toots was doing wonderful things with ‘Stardust’, that of all the hundreds of thousands of musicians out there, not one of them sounds remotely like him. Entirely unique. When he goes, as he must, we’ll have lost something definitive. I’ll stop now, before I get all Borgesian and start rambling about blocks of sulphur in mahogany desk drawers and the like.. I’m glad to have shared a room with him.

(By the way, no that’s not the the soundtrack to the Shirley Maclaine movie above – that’s Toots performing the main theme to The Getaway, starring Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw. And if any of you young’uns ever pondered what all the fuss was about Shirley, and why we all were so in love with her, this clip goes some way to explaining, I think..


3 thoughts on “Toots

  1. Amazing how some things echo from the background and get taken for granted…like the harmonica. You hear it all the time and then you get to see a virtuoso like Toots and it changes all perception. Its an amazing instrument in the right hands, but I’m always afraid the player is going to inhale it.

  2. Hi Andy,

    I just wanted to say that my most favorite memory of seeing Fred Hersch was when he performed with Janis Siegal (MT fame) They performed the “Slow Hot Wind” cd at the Jazz Bakery in LA. It was fabulous.

    Take care

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