Toots Thielemans

2016 has been a time of great loss for music: Prince , David Bowie , Leonard Cohen and Sharon Jones all passed away this year, just to name a few. The jazz world was no exception. Christian McBride, host of Jazz Night In America , joined NPR's Audie Cornish to discuss the lives and legacies of three jazz giants who we lost in 2016 — Toots Thielemans , Victor Bailey and Bobby Hutcherson . All three musicians were known for unusual decisions that paid off. Thielemans was a jazz harmonica player...

Jean-Baptiste "Toots" Thielemans, the Belgian-American musician who cut a singular path as a jazz harmonica player, died in his sleep Monday in his hometown of Brussels. He was 94. He began his professional career as a guitar player (and added the ability to whistle a line above it), but inspired by the mid-20th-century innovations of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, he returned to the chromatic harmonica and developed a bebop-influenced technique on it. He performed and recorded widely...

The Harmonica-Playing Baron Of Belgium

May 18, 2012

People throughout Belgium are currently celebrating the harmonica player and guitarist Jean-Baptiste "Toots" Thielemans, born in Brussels on April 29, 1922. That puts the NEA Jazz Master, also made a Baron by the King of Belgium in 2001, just a few days past 90. The night after his birthday, Thielemans set out on an eight-concert tour across his homeland. In Ghent, Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine joined him as a special guest. In Brussels, his long-time pianist Kenny Werner and guitarist...