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The Whistler & His Guitar

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Album Review

Toots Thielemans has probably paid many a bill with the royalties from his hit composition "Bluesette," which made its LP debut (following its first appearance on an ABC-Paramount single, though this first version was actually licensed from Metronome in Sweden) on this release. Thielemans is heard whistling in unison with his guitar throughout the date, although the choice of a Lowery organ for keyboard virtuoso Dick Hyman gives his accompaniment a rather dated Muzak-like sound at times, especially on "Star Dust." The best tracks are Thielemans' originals; in addition to the lightly swinging "Bluesette," the easygoing waltz "Marionette," the campy "Happy Nuts," and the upbeat "The Valley Whistler" (co-written with producer Sid Feller), which is based on a folk melody, are all enjoyable. Duke Ellington's "Duke's Place" (the vocal version of his "C Jam Blues") is rather amusing with a slightly gospel feeling, though Thielemans restricts his vocal to simply stating the title occasionally. Although this long unavailable LP won't be considered essential by the average jazz fan, those who enjoy Toots Thielemans will want to hear the original version of his often-recorded "Bluesette," which is enough to make the difficult search for this record worthwhile.


Born: 29 April 1922 in Brussels, Belgium

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Although preceded by Larry Adler (who has actually spent much of his career playing popular and classical music), Toots Thielemans virtually introduced the chromatic harmonica as a jazz instrument. In fact, ever since the mid-'50s, he has had no close competitors. Toots simply plays the harmonica with the dexterity of a saxophonist and has even successfully traded off with the likes of Oscar Peterson. Toots Thielemans' first instrument was the accordion, which he started when he was three. Although...
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The Whistler & His Guitar, Toots Thielemans
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