The Pace Report

Season 2011 Episode 09.19.11

The Pace Report: "Toots!" The Toots Thielemans Interview Part One wsg Kenny Werner

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For eight decades Toots Thielemans has given the world his gift of music in many genres of music including jazz, pop, world, and children's music. Toots has been heard in endless movie and television scores including many television commercials for over 30 years. He’s known as one of a few chromatic harmonica players with a style of his own. In addition to him playing harmonica, he’s also been a world renowned whistler as well as a cutting edge jazz guitarist. His many accomplishments haven’t gone unnoticed nor been slept on. In 2009 Toots was inducted as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Inductee. In 2001, Toots was honored with the title “Baron” by Albert II the King of Belgium.The 89 year-old has been one of the most important music figures during the 20th century and is still very active playing many jazz festivals and clubs all over the world to the tune of up to 100 dates a year. During this year’s 2011 Detroit Jazz Festival which took place during the Labor Day weekend in Detroit, Michigan, Toots, along with pianist and music director Kenny Werner, were one of the many headliners to grace the stage and festivities. I sat down with Mr. Thielemans before his set and we talked at great length about his long career and his many accomplishments. Born Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor, Baron Thielemans on April 29th, 1922 in Brussels, Belgium, Toots began his career as musician when he was a little kid. His father owned a pub in Brussels and would come to visit his dad while he was working. Hearing the live music daily, one of the patrons of the pub noticed young Toots imitating the accordion player. Upon the musicians observation, he told Toot’s father that he likes music and that he should buy him a toy paper accordion. He did and was hooked on playing music ever since. When he got a little older he began playing the harmonica. Jean earned the nickname “Toots” due to two popular Belgium amoreless

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