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One More for the Road

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Album Review

These sessions by harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans are a mixed bag of vocal and instrumental interpretations of works by Harold Arlen. Unfortunately, the project comes across as more of a crossover date, featuring several vocalists who will be of little interest to many jazz fans, while conductor Jurre Haanstra's orchestrations are rather bland and sometimes a bit syrupy. Thielemans' own solos tend to be fairly short, while his regular pianist, Kenny Werner (switching to Fender Rhodes on a few tracks), isn't utilized enough as a soloist. The best selections include "This Time the Dream's on Me," which features Till Brönner on both trumpet and vocals in a warm and unpretentious setting, a campy treatment of "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" by Madeleine Peyroux, along with Trijntje Oosterhuis' warm rendition of the nearly forgotten "I Wonder What Became of Me." But several tracks don't make the cut, including Jamie Cullum's pop-infused "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)," Beth Hart's dreadful "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues," and urban contemporary singer Oleta Adams' lackluster version of "Stormy Weather." This CD falls short of being an essential Toots Thielemans release.


Born: 29 April 1922 in Brussels, Belgium

Genre: Jazz

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

Toots Thielemans virtually introduced the chromatic harmonica as a jazz instrument. In fact, beginning in the mid-'50s, he never had a close competitor. Thielemans simply played the harmonica with the dexterity of a saxophonist and even successfully traded off with the likes of Oscar Peterson. Thielemans' first instrument was the accordion, which he started when he was three. Although he started playing the harmonica when he was 17, Thielemans' original reputation was made as a guitarist who was...
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