Toots Thielemans: Naima
'Toots' Thielemans (harmonica)
East Coast West Coast (Private Music 01005-82120-2)
Trot Davis (drums).
Composed by John Coltrane.
Recorded: New York, released 1994
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Chromatic harmonica master Jean "Toots" Thielemans assembled a remarkable group of fellow musicians from both U.S. coasts to make this appealing album. In this East Coast-based lineup, onetime Pat Metheny keyboardist Lyle Mays starts John Coltrane's beautiful ode to his first wife, "Naima." Mays's feather-light touch is especially effective on his sensitive acoustic piano intro, accompanied by Christian McBride's tasteful arco bass. Toots's remarkable instrumental facility again demonstrates his ability to raise the chromatic harmonica to equality among other, more accepted jazz instruments. The sense of poignancy that he can summon is unsurpassed. Some tasteful electric guitar licks from John Scofield propel this classic tune into a more contemporary sound without any lack of respect. A nice duet between Redman's tenor and Toots's harmonica completes this marvelous interpretation of the Coltrane classic.
Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello