Desert Island Jazz
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Most Recent Castaway - 2nd September, 2016
Toots Thielemans (2016)

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(Photo by Jos Knaepen)

Toots Thielemans's first instument was a home-made accordion of sorts, which he began playing at age three. It was his fellow Belgian, Django Reinhardt, who inspired him to take up the guitar, and at age 17 he added the harmonica.

After Charlie Parker befriended him when Bird appeared at the Paris Jazz Festival in 1949, Toots moved onto the international stage. He toured with Benny Goodman, worked with Dinah Washington, and played guitar with George Shearing for six years.

Toots's composition "Bluesette" became a world-wide hit in 1962. Often with Quincy Jones, he's played innumerable movie soundtracks, such as "Midnight Cowboy", and, on the small screen, on "Sesame Street".

Clifford Brown once told him, "Toots, the way you play harmonica, it shouldn't be called a 'miscellaneous instrument!'"

During his long life, Toots received many honors, among them becoming a 2009 NEA Jazz Master. But perhaps his crowning honor came in 2001, when King Albert II of Belgium dubbed him a lifetime baron for his contributions to music: Baron Toots!
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers Louis and the Mills Brothers Carry Me Back to Old Virginny MCA Coral
# 2 Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli Giants of Jazz: Coleman Hawkins Sweet Georgia Brown Time-Life
# 3 Django Reinhardt 1940 Nuages Classics
# 4 Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie Yardbird Suite Groovin' High Rhino
# 5 Charlie Parker Charlie Parker with Strings: The Master Takes Just Friends Verve
# 6 Miles Davis Miles Ahead Miles Ahead Columbia
# 7 Miles Davis Someday My Prince Will Come Someday My Prince Will Come Columbia
# 8 Lester Young The Lester Young Story Lester Leaps In Proper
         
Book Boris Vian, "Romans, Nouvelles, Oeuvres Diverses"
         
Luxury Item A harmonica