33 Comments

"The Brasil Project" is a great album, as is his "Elis and Toots". His playing on the "Midnight Cowboy" soundtrack is memorable for its haunting tone.

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Apr 29, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

I remember an interview with Toots a while back where he said that he made more money off of that Old Spice commercial than all of the records he made put together.

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Apr 29, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

Nice. I'm in the middle of a fascinating book about the making of "Midnight Cowboy," the 1969 film. For me the emotional impact of "Midnight Cowboy" has as much to do with Toots' playing on the film's theme (composed by John Barry) as it has to do with story, acting, or cinematography. But that piece of music tends to get overlooked, or perhaps confused with/overshadowed by Fred Neil's song "Everybody Talkin'" (Harry Nilsson's version) which was also on the soundtrack and became a big hit as a single. (Apparently Dylan wrote "Lay, Lady, Lay" for the film, but submitted it too late, so the Fred Neil song got the nod.)

Also appreciated the bit about Toots and Stevie Wonder dueting. Amazing. I'm no connoisseur of harmonica or Stevie Wonder, but it recently occurred to me that SW truly developed his own unique sound on the instrument--much different in feel and tone from Toots' but worth appreciating.

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Apr 29, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

This is a lovely and loving tribute. I listened to “Dindi”…he was as marvelous as you said, and the match with Ella was great for both of them. Thank you…I will put together a “Toots playlist” today!

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Ted, thank you so much for this wonderful tribute to Toots on his 100th birthday. I have long been a fan of Toots Thielemans, and when I saw the Google illustration early this morning it stopped me in my tracks. I thought, that's Toots! And wondered why he was featured, until I clicked on the image to discover it was his centenary. I saw Toots at Yoshi's a couple of times during the '90s, when you and I were both working at the same company. I believe I talked to you about one of those performances, and turned several of our colleagues onto his Chez Toots album. I recently watched a film biography of Django Reinhardt and was fascinated to see how he survived during a very dark period of history, and how he brought Toots and Stephane Grappelli into the limelight during that time. I was fortunate enough to see Grappelli play with David Grisman in the '80s at the Great American Music Hall in SF. Thank you again for your beautiful tribute - the video clips brought tears to my eyes.

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A fascinating figure in music history.

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Wow - great write up for a great man

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Apr 30, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

Wow, that "Dindi" solo is gorgeous!

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Apr 30, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

Delightful piece. Thanks

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Apr 30, 2022Liked by Ted Gioia

I've been a fan since I saw him perform in Copenhagen in 1974. My Danish friends were quite aware of him and were excited about the concert.

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what a fantastic story. I needed it today. thank you Ted

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Thanks fir this. I dearly love Toots. His two Brazil albums are absolute favorites.

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Is anyone playing jazz harmonica these days?

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author

There are a few others, but the best come from Europe (probably due to Toots Thielemans's example). Check out Hendrik Meurkens or Grégoire Maret.

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YES: check out Hermine Deurloo (based in Amsterdam) https://www.herminedeurloo.com/

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Neil Adler in the SF Bay is pretty great. He's on his way to Brussels right now to perform in a Toots celebration. Having just learned about Larry Adler from this article, I've asked Neil and will report back here what I learn:)

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Check out Bela Fleck & Flecktones guy -Howard Levy. Also a fabulous Piano master.

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Neil says unclear if he's related to Larry, so many Ukrainian Jews came over in 1915-1920

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William Galison is his successor

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Toots is awesome. Are you familiar with John Sebastian's (yes, the Loving Spoonful guy) father (also "named" John Sebastian) and his role in bringing the chromatic harmonica to classical music?

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First time I heard Toots was on Barry’s “Midnight Cowboy Theme”, a song that haunts me to this day. Then I heard “Bluesette” in “Mellow Madness” by Quincy Jones, and was tuned into Toots from then on.

He does some wonderful work on Gilberto & Turrentine also - great album.

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I saw the lead in in was hoping it was gonna be about Toots - & there it was. My Dad was an old style big band type drummer & originally told me who Toots was. I loved Jazz from the start & when I was in a Jazz program in college as a young guitarist / vocalist, one of my finals was playing Bluesette. Loved that tune & what a fun one to play.

Great writings as always ... Thanks Ted

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