Toots Thielemans: Blue N' Green/All Blues


Blue N' Green/All Blues


'Toots' Thielemans (harmonica)


Do Not Leave Me (Milan Records)

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'Toots' Thielemans (harmonica), Fred Hersch (piano), Marc Johnson (bass), Joey Baron (drums).

Composed by Miles Davis


Recorded: June 19, 1986


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

In some ways the great Toots Thielemans has been overlooked by the jazz world. That can happen when your main ax is a harmonica. Harmonicas and accordions are forever to be outsiders never let into the club in which overwhelming virtuosity on an instrument is highly admired by legions of aficionados. It doesn't help that Toots is also a guitarist, a superlative whistler or that he had a hit tune with "Bluesette." These seem not to have added enough to his bona fides. There is a big difference between being called "the greatest jazz harmonica player" instead of "one of the greatest jazz musicians." Thielemans is both and jazz people in the know, know it.

For all intents and purposes, "Blue in Green" (listed here as "Blue N' Green") serves as a prelude for Thielemans's take on another Miles Davis classic, "All Blues." The medley begins first with pianist Fred Hersch and Thielemans taking wonderful solos extolling the thoughtful melodic virtues of "Blue in Green." Their measured but expressive endeavors serve as a melancholy introduction to "All Blues." The band goes up-tempo as Johnson and Baron propel the piece. Hersch and Thielemans once again take turns playing over the rapid changes. After several minutes of high energy, the two slow the number down with some touching counterpoint and a loving restatement of the theme. Thielemans's harmonica is as expressive as any mainstream instrument could ever hope to be.

Being a jazz harmonica virtuoso and a jazz whistler has some advantages. You don't have too much competition. You get some nice movie soundtrack jobs (Midnight Cowboy among others). A TV commercial can come your way here and there (Old Spice). And you can become known as perhaps the greatest jazz harmonica player/whistler ever. That will have to do for now.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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