Saturday, March 13, 2010

An Evening with Toots Thielemans

Last night, I took my roommate Christopher to Scullers Jazz Club in Brighton to see harmonica legend Toots Thielemans play with pianist Kenny Werner and guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves.

As Thielemans put it, "It was Brussels sitting between Buenos Aires and Brooklyn."

I saw Thielemans play at Scullers about a decade ago not long after I arrived in Boston. But I thought I should see him play again. After all, the man is 87-years-old and father time can behave rather arbitrarily. Thielemans is physically more frail now. He had to be assisted to and from the stage. However, once he started playing the harmonica the clock turned back sixty years. He was smiling, laughing and had a great rapport with both Werner and Castro-Neves. The audience enjoyed it and were left wanting more.

After the show, Thielemans was sitting by the bar. I asked Christopher if he wanted to meet him. "No, I'm too intimidated," he said. But I had my Midnight Cowboy CD cover with me which I wanted Thielemanns to autograph. So while I had him sign my CD cover I introduced him to Christopher who greeted him effusively. It was Christopher's first time at a jazz club and it was well worth it.

Who knows? Perhaps Thielemans will still be playing Scullers in ten years from now. He played in Boston for the first time in 1953 with the Count Basie Orchestra and George Shearing (who himself is still going strong at 90 years old.) So why shouldn't he play on for another decade. On the other hand, he could be gone in two weeks. Either way I wanted to appreciate his artistry while he is still amongst us.

BTW, Thielemans did not play the theme from Midnight Cowboy so here he is playing it at Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

i was there as well actually. magnificent performance. :D