Toots Thielemen took the typically-underappreciated instrument of the harmonica, gave it the seem of soul and, in the words of a single jazz historian, turned it into “a respectable voice of jazz.”
The Belgian jazz musician was also regarded for his guitar capabilities, whistling and composing, but it was his chromatic harmonica taking part in that built him the pre-eminent jazz harmonica participant. In excess of the program of a profession that lasted the better component of 7 a long time, Thielemans performed with jazz and blues legends these as Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones, the latter who identified as Thielemans “just one of the finest musicians of our time.”
To rejoice Thielemans’ contribution to music, Google on Friday dedicated its Doodle to the jazz good on his 100th birthday.
Born Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor, Baron Thielemans in Brussels in 1922, Thielemans picked up songs at an early age, actively playing a handmade accordion at the age of 3. As a teen, he began actively playing the guitar and harmonica, which he taught himself to enjoy throughout the German profession of Belgium.
Soon after taking part in in Europe with the likes of Benny Goodman, Thielemans immigrated to the US in 1952, enjoying with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra and fellow harmonica wonderful Stevie Surprise. He also went on to perform on the soundtracks of flicks these kinds of as Midnight Cowboy and The Getaway, as perfectly as contributing common seems to 4 a long time of Sesame Road activities.
Thielemans would afterwards collaborate with Paul Simon on his 1975 album However Ridiculous Right after All These Yrs and with Billy Joel on his 1983 album Harmless Person.
In 2009, he was honored with the distinction of “Jazz Master” by the Countrywide Endowment of the Arts.
Thielemans died in 2016 at the age of 1994. Soon after Thielemans’ loss of life, Jones executed a concert in his honor at London’s Royal Albert Hall.