"Zware Jongens" (OST)
53,3 sec. - 104 Kb.
song: Toots Thielemans
Year : 1984
Record co. : HKM
Toots Thielemans was born in Brussels in 1922. As a child he listened to the
music of Django Reinhardt & His Hot Club De France & Charlie Parker. He
learned to play accordion, harmonica and electrical guitar (but never has learned
to read musical notation).
As he tells himself in an interview with Studio Brussel (you
can listen to it here. Note : this was the very first interview broadcasted
on this radio station, back in 1983.) he recalls his youth in Brussels:
"I was born in 1922, on the 29th of April, on the Hoogstraat in Brussels.
My mother was born in Antwerp, and the Thielemans-family lived at the Zavel (Sablon),
the old part of Brussels. At that time I wasn't Toots, I was "Jeanke".
My parents had a pub, a staminee, and each Sunday there was an accordionist. They
have told me that when I was in my cradle, I already was imitating the gestures
of the musician. One of the clients said "that kid wants to play accordion".
My father has bought me a little cardboard accordion, and when I was three I got
this little machine. (plays a little bit, accompanied by the barking of his
little dog called Duke Yorkshire Ellington Thielemans).
I'm a self-made man : I don't went to an academy or a school. I didn't have the
strongest of health, and musician "that isn't a real job", as it was
said then. I once was told that a professor of the academy had heard there was
perhaps a new Mozart living on the Hoogstraat. He also came listening, but my
parent have told him "no, no, let Jeanke play, he's alright here".
In the early '50s Thielemans toured Europe with an all-star band under the
leadership of Benny Goodman and shortly thereafter he decided to leave Belgium
and try his luck in America (he acquired the American Nationality in 1952). Once
in the 'promised land' he was discovered by the pianist George Shearing, who invited
him to join his quintet in 1953. After six successful years with Shearing, Thielemans
went on to found a couple of swing and bebop quartets under his own name and in
1961 he first recorded his well-known composition 'Bluesette', now a musical "evergreen".
He always jokingly refers to this song as "his pension fund".
In addition he set out on a busy career as a freelance musician, working with
major stars of jazz like Quincy Jones, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar
Peterson. Thielemans's harmonica sounds are also featured on the soundtracks of
famous movies like 'Midnight Cowboy' (1969), 'The Getaway' (1972), 'Sugarland
Express' (1974) and ... the theme tune to the children's show Sesame Street (as
well as less famous movies, eg. Zware Jongens with Gaston & Leo). He also
ventured out into the pop-world with sessions for the numerous musicians like
Billy Joel, Paul Simon ....
In 1981, Toots suffered from a major stroke that left part of his body with
little feeling. Today he has pretty much recovered from the stroke and admits
that while he may not be able to play as many notes as he used to, he can still
"play the good ones".
For several decades now Thielemans's melancholic sounds have made an emotional
impact on audiences the world over.
In 1998, Toots releases a new CD called "Chez Toots", recorded in
the French capital Paris, "a jazztronomical menu of Toots' recollections
of French classical songs from Edith Piaf to Eric Satie". With his friends,
like the Belgian guitarist Philip Cathérine, the French accordionist Marcel Azzola,
and guest-vocalists like Diana Krall, Chip, Dianne Reeves, Johnny Mathis and Shirley
In a review of the album by Het Nieuwsblad, it goes "76 he has become,
and as a musician he's still going strong. Going for the one sensitive note instead
of the former 2 or 3, but the expression, the way that that note is played, is
still gaining in intensity. His eyes smile when he swings "La vie en
rose", tears flow when he plays "Ne me quittes pas"
(of Jacques Brel). "Chez Toots" is an
honest, emotional album that will please the wide audience he has gained over
the years. This is world music from Belgium, a fusion of jazz, chanson, musette
and even classical music. In short, the Ket feels good".
a reviewer said at the time of "Live Takes volume 1", everybody thinks
about Toots : "We have heard many of Thielemans' licks and phrases before.
We eagerly approach each of his recordings with a sense of knowing. And yet, his
mastery of the instrument and his instinctive knowledge of a tune's depth of meaning
continue infinitely to please the listener in much the same way that Lester Young
did. Such familiarity breed contentment. In other words, it seems impossible to
tire of Thielemans' playing."
In 2001, Toots was again honoured on a number of occasions, after his "bluesette"
already had been introduced in the "eregallerij van het Vlaamse lied"
by Radio 2, aside Will Tura, Rocco Granata, La
Esterella en Bobbejaan Schoepen. Thus, he could
open the Belgian presidency of the E.U. during the Chapeau Europe party on the
Grand Place in Brussels. And a bit later, as the first Belgian artist in the "popular"
genre, he received the title of Baron (together with Will Tura and Salvatore
Adamo, who were both knighted). In Holland, he receive a unique Edison for
his entire career at the North Sea jazzfestival in The Hague. On the release-front,
he came up with CD "Toots Thielemans & Kenny Werner", his
first songs on disc with this pianist although they had been cooperating and performign
for years. On the live-front, a high point was certainly the live-show at Jazz-Middelheim
with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra.
Buy CD's of this artist
- Footprints (Universal, 1991)
- The Brasil Project (BMG, 1992)
- The Brasil Project vol 2. (BMG, 1993)
- Compact Jazz (Verve, 1993)
- East Coast, West Coast (Private Music, 1994)
- Aquarelo do Brasil (Universal, 1995)
- Chez Toots (Windham Hill, 1998)
- The Live Takes, volume 1 (Quetzal records, 2000)
- "Hard to Say Goodbye", the very best of Toots Thielemans (Universal,
- Toots Thielemans & Kenny Wener (Universal, 2001)
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