From Dave Drum@1:2320/100 to All on Tue Aug 23 07:37:28 2016
* Originally in: fido.HOME_COO
You may not have know who Jean-Baptiste Fr+4d+4ric Isidor "Toots" Thielemans, also known as Baron Thielemans of Belgium was. But, you know his music. From the iconic Old Spice commercial theme of the 70s and 80s, to the Sesame Street theme, to Sanford & Son and his work with Quincy Jones and every major jazz star since the late 1940s, if a piece of recorded or broadcast music featured whistling or harmonica - chances are it was Toots' work.
He was a perennial winner of Downbeat Magazine and Playboy polls in the miscellaneous instrument category. I argued several time (unsuccessfully) that in Toots' hands the harmonica was elevated far past miscellany. He was also a guitar picker - although not so well known for that.
Thielemans' biggest hit as the leader of his own band was "Bluesette," written in 1962, on which he also played guitar and whistled the main theme simultaneously. It's now considered a standard of the jazz repertory.
But the tune for which most Americans probably know him best was "Sunny Days," the wah-wah-ing harmonica theme for "Sesame Street," which has been ingrained into the minds of millions of children.
With its bluesy main line, played just a fraction of a beat behind the main rhythm, the theme is just as much a jazz classic as it as children's ditty.
The National Endowment for the Arts named Thielemans an NEA Jazz Master in 2009. Among his scores of other awards are appointment as a chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France's highest cultural honor, and the life baronetcy he was bestowed in 2001 by King Albert II of Belgium.
Toots died in his sleep in a Belgian hospital where he'd been hospitalized since last month after a fall, The Associated Press reported. He retired from performing in March 2014, saying he found it too tiring to stand during a concert.