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Live CD Features Unique and Previously Unreleased Recordings
Taken from Thielemans’ Latest Tours Around the World
Featuring Companion DVD with Select Materials from his
Most Recent Concert in Japan

“The harmonica has long been regarded as the humblest of musical instruments, and yet, as Mr. Thielemans and Mr. Maret show, when played at its best, it is more than capable of expressing the deepest feelings in the human experience.” – Wall Street Journal

“Wherever his ideas take him he follows them, and the rest of his superb European Quartet miraculously keep up with him.” – The Guardian

Stream 2 Tracks from 90 Yrs.

Toots Thielemans (European Quartet), 90 yrs.

This past April, Toots Thielemans, arguably the most famous harmonica player worldwide, turned 90-years old. To celebrate this milestone, Thielemans is releasing a live CD/DVD package with the support of his European quartet – pianist Karel Boehlee, drummer Hans van Oosterhout and double-bass player Hein Van de Geyn. The album is comprised of eleven tracks recorded over the past five years during Thielemans’ latest globetrotting tours while the accompanying DVD focuses on his group’s latest concert in Japan.

90 Yrs. encompasses the impressive array of Thielemans’ career. The album opens with the track “Waltz for Sonny,” a bow to Sonny Rollins and a musical brother of Thielemans’ “Bluesette.” The next track, “The Dragon,” was written by Thielemans for the Japanese movie Yasha (1985), a nice, open and mysterious tune; he also wrote the original soundtrack for the film together with Mitsuhiko Saito.

“Sno’ Peas” is originally written by Phil Markowitz and made famous by legendary pianist Bill Evans, with whom Thielemans had played and recorded with Evans while living in the USA. “Sno’ Peas” has been on Thielemans’ list of favorites for a long time. “One Note Samba” and “Wave,” composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim, are great examples of very intelligent, yet accessible writing. Obvious and singable to the superficial ear, and full of hidden details for the specialist such as Thielemans – they leave so much space for creativity and personal interpretation, yet remain always very clear in their own identity at the same time.

“Dat Mistige Rooie Beest (That Misty Red Animal)” was composed by the famous conductor Rogier van Otterloo for the Dutch movie Turks Fruit (Turkish Fruit) and featured Thielemans’ recognizable harmonica sound on the original soundtrack.

During his time with Dave Brubeck, “In Your Own Sweet Way” often kicked off their concerts, providing a wonderful vehicle for improvisation with the 8-bar interlude, opening doors to new interpretations. Thielemans is also a great admirer of Louis Armstrong, “the greatest jazz musician ever,” and as a boy was bitten by the jazz bug upon hearing the icon’s voice. Thielemans includes “What a Wonderful World” as a dedication to Armstrong.

“The Dolphin,” written by Luiz Eça, is another very challenging harmonic, yet such lovely melodic song. Thielemans has also worked with pop musicians in addition to big jazz artists. In the seventies Thielemans was invited to join Paul Simon on a long tour and was featured on the song, “I Do It For Your Love.” Thielemans has kept it on his repertoire since then.

The last song on the record, “Old Friend,” is a very special one. Thielemans wrote it when he was young as a harmonic exercise, yet it is so full of feeling. With adding strings by the Shinozaki Strings from Tokio, this is a heartfelt rendition of this special composition that Toots Thielemans dedicated to his father.

Jean “Toots” Thielemans was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1922, and three years later he could already play the accordion and had began harmonica as a hobby. Thielemans became hooked on jazz during the German occupation and found his first major influence in celebrated Belgian guitar virtuoso Django Reinhardt. His extensive and successful career actually began on guitar, participating in a 1949 Paris jam session alongside the likes of Charlie Parker, Sidney Bechet, Miles Davis, and Max Roach before joining Benny Goodman on European tours the following year. Throughout his career, Thielemans has played and recorded with Ella Fitzgerald, Jaco Pastorius, Peggy Lee, The George Shearing Quintet, Quincy Jones, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, The Happenings, Astrud Gilberto, Shirley Horn, and Elis Regina.

Thielemans also composed the jazz standard “Bluesette,” where he played guitar and whistled in unison, which was first recorded 50-years ago and became a worldwide hit with lyrics by Norman Gimbel. He has also had his playing featured in film scores such as Midnight Cowboy, Jean de Florette, Sugarland Express, The Yakuza, Turkish Delight, The Getaway, French Kiss, Dunderklumpen, and various TV programs, including Sesame Street, and in Old Spice radio and TV commercials. In 2001, he was ennobled a baron by King Albert II of Belgium and four years later was nominated as “The Greatest Belgian.” Thielemans was also honored with the 2009 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship and in January 2009, he joined Philip Catherine on stage at the Liberchies church in Belgium in memory of the 100th anniversary of Django Reinhardt’s birth.

90 Yrs. Personnel & Track Listing:

Toots Thielemans / harmonica
Karel Boehlee / piano, synthesizer
Hein Van de Geyn / double bass
Hans van Oosterhout / drums

1. Waltz for Sonny (Toots Thielemans) – 5:28
2. The Dragon (Toots Thielemans) – 4:32
3. Sno’ Peas (Phil Markowitz) – 6:13
4. Wave (Antonio Carlos Jobim) – 4:35
5. Dat Mistige Rooie Beest (Rogier van Otterloo) – 5:08
6. In Your Own Sweet Way (Dave Brubeck) – 6:08
7. What A Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong) – 3:41
8. One Note Samba (Antonio Carlos Jobim) – 4:04
9. The Dolphin (Luiz Eça) – 4:09
10. I Do It For Your Love (Paul Simon) – 6:22
11. Old Friend (Toots Thielemans) – 5:18

Upcoming Performances:

Toots Thielemans: Celebrating 90 Years
September 28 & 29 / Jazz at Lincoln Center, Rose Theater / New York, NY
Featuring special guests Herbie Hancock, Kenny Werner,
Oscar Castro-Neves, Eliane Elias, Dori Caymmi, and more.
Plus: Free pre-concert discussion nightly with Kenny Werner
and JALC educator Seton Hawkins.

For more information on Toots Thielemans, please visit: TootsThielemans.com.

For more information on Challenge Records, please visit: Challenge.nl.

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