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Jazz In Paris, Vol. 17: Blues pour flirter

Toots Thielemans

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Album Review

Although Toots Thielemans is far better-known for his virtuoso harmonica playing, he sticks exclusively to guitar on this pair of studio dates, initially taped in 1961 for Polydor. Accompanied by pianist Georges Arvanitas, bassist Roland Lobligeois, and drummer Philippe Combelle, Thielemans leads a primarily laid-back session with the focus on the leader, covering standards ("Willow Weep for Me" and "We'll be Together Again"), adding a soft wordless background vocal to "Satin Doll," and giving a loping treatment to Milt Jackson's "Bags' Groove." No matter that none of Thielemans' compositions have come close to matching the widespread popularity of his huge hit, "Bluesette"; two blues he wrote for this date, "Le Trottoir" and "Flirt" (the latter of which is the only track to feature his famous whistling), are very enjoyable. Even if this Verve CD reissue falls short of being an essential purchase, any fan of Toots Thielemans will want to acquire it.

Biography

Born: April 29, 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...
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