In 1962, Toots Thielemans wrote “Bluesette” which has become a standard now. He worked on many film scores, has recorded dozens of albums, has played with Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker and George Shearing in the early 50s and received countless awards.
I first heard him on the 1981 Quincy Jones LP “The Dude” on “Velas”, a song written by Ivan Lins. His long affiliation and fascination with Brazilian music also yielded the 1969 album “Aquarela Do Brasil” with legendary singer Elis Regina. I was lucky enough to witness countless concerts with Toots – he was regularly playing the Northsea Jazz Festival throughout the 90s and well into the 00s.
Check out his two Brasil Project albums with stars like Milton Nascimento and Djavan, the fascinating “East Coast West Coast” jazz album with Joshua Redman, Christian McBride, and Charlie Haden, or “For My Lady”, an album he recorded with the Shirley Horn Trio.
What did his lifelong friend Quincy Jones say about Toots: “I can say without hesitation that Toots is one of the greatest musicians of our time. On his instrument he ranks with the best that jazz has ever produced. He goes for the heart and makes you cry.”
Two years ago, Toots decided to retire officially. He died yesterday at the age of 94.
The Toots Jazz Festival 2016 will be held in La Hulpe, Belgium, September 9-11 with acts like Philip Catherine and Richard Galliano.