Toots is the man who can make something beautiful out of anything. Harmonica player and professional whistler Jean 'Toots' Thielemans is at home in jazz (Ella Fitzgerald, Jaco Pastorius, Quincy Jones), pop (Billy Joel, Paul Simon), film music (Turks Fruit, Midnight Cowboy) and commercials (Old Spice). The sympathetic artist started his career in the early 1950s as a guitarist and harmonica player in pianist George Shearing's quintet. An international breakthrough followed when he accompanied Benny Goodman on his European tour.
Thielemans developed a new sound by playing unison guitar and whistling. In 1962 he composed 'Bluesette', a piece that made the Belgian world famous. He is still a very popular artist, travelling across the globe with his 'bun', as he calls his harmonica. Last year the musician was made a baron by Belgium's king Albert II.
Of course Thielemans' steady musical partner, pianist Kenny Werner will also be present. He toured a lot in the 1980s with Archie Shepp and formed a long-standing trio with Ratzo Harris and Tom Rainey. Later Werner played with Joe Lovano, Tom Harrell and others. A year ago he made a recording with Dave Holland and Jack Dejohnette. Toots Thielemans eightieth birthday will become even more festive with Oscar Castro-Neves' attendance, the Brazilian guitarist who has been residing in the US since 1966. Besides being one of the musical architects of bossa nova, the musician has played with important musicians like Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock and Michael Brecker. Apart from his guitar playing, he produces and arranges a lot (including work for Quincy Jones and Paul Winter) and writes music for American movies and TV series. The trio Thielemans/Werner/Castro-Neves played in the United States a number of times last year and is currently Jean 'Toots' Thielemans' favorite trio.