Reflections on Toots Thieleman

August 30, 2016

Toots was a bright guiding light for all of us and will be sorely missed but not forgotten. Knowing the grand Maestro di Maestri Toots Thieleman was one of the most inspired relationships I’ve had in my life.
Toots was full of love that translated into his music. When he agreed to play on my Trio Fascination recording “Flights of Fancy” for Blue Note I was ecstatic. He, Kenny Werner and I played as a complete ensemble with the most magical flow of ideas within the music.

Toots was pure melody and a true genius of expression.Talking on the phone with Toots was always an amazing joyous experience, he would play little beautiful phrases on harmonica as we would be conversing. I would always hang up the phone, laugh, pick up my horn and try to repeat some of his lines.

Through the years and on many festival stages around the world my band played opposite Toots. Once in Pescara he was there with his quartet and I was there with mine, which featured another master of music the great Hank Jones. Toots and Hank had a very special relationship dating back to 1944. When Toots first came to NYC and sat in with Howard McGee it was Hank won piano. On that night in 2004 Toots sat in with us, we played “I Can’t Get Started” the same tune he played with Hank way back then! That was a spiritual beautiful moment for everyone.

Toots gave you the chills when he played and every time you were in his presence you felt his Love and Passion.

Viva la Toots Thielemans!!!