(Gulp.) wdydfae here. I must start with a slavish thank you to the incomparable BoFN crew for asking me on!
Well, OK, let’s be realistic about this. In fact, it was probably just Amb and Liz cornering Dave and pleading, “But, Dave. Just look at him. We have to do something to help the poor thing. We just have to!”
Noble humanitarian interventions notwithstanding, not only have I been a huge fan of BoFN from the moment I stumbled upon it, I’ve also been an open and shameless copycat
However, so far my approach has been substantially different. While BoFN covers (yawn) lots and lots of funny names (cough cough boooorrring cough cough), my policy has been to focus on one funny name, and then milk it endlessly for all it’s worth.
Or, as I like to think of it, depth rather than breadth.
So this post represents another milestone for me—one that I approach with trepidation. Yes, I am leaving the comfort of the known, and stepping into the unknown. I am posting on . . . a funny name that is not Kyary Pamyu Pamyu!
Actually, Toots Thielemans has not been a total stranger to wdydfae. I posted him playing The Beatles’ “Blackbird” with Jaco Pastorius.
But let’s get started already.
Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor (“Toots”), Baron Thielemans is widely regarded as one of the greatest harmonica players ever, though he actually started out on guitar, and is also well known as a professional whistler. A good example of his bright, warm, whistful, versatile, unpredictable, inimitable, and instantly recognizable sound on harmonica can be heard in the following Youtube of “Bluesette”–his own jazz standard which became an international hit in 1962 when Norman Gimbel added lyrics.
Toots’ massive musical resume includes playing with such greats as Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Miles Davis, Zoot Sims, Benny Goodman, fellow Belgian Bobbejaan Schoepen, Ella Fitzgerald, George Shearing, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Oscar Peterson, J.J. Johnson, Bill Evans, Quincy Jones, Joe Pass, Astrud Gilberto, Peggy Lee, Elis Regina, Natalie Cole, and so many more.
But it turns out that I heard Toots hundreds of times before I even knew who he was, and if you’re anywhere close to me in age, so have you. It was Toots playing the haunting theme to Midnight Cowboy.
It was Toots whistling in the old Old Spice commercials.
And it was Toots playing the Sesame Street theme.
His harmonica can also be heard in such movies as Sugarland Express, The Getaway and French Kiss. In addition, he wrote the music for a Swedish film, Dunderklumpen! (included here for obvious reasons).
According to our trusty Wikipedia, Toots celebrated his 90th birthday last year at Lincoln Center in a concert with greats that included Herbie Hancock, Eliane Elias, and Dori Caymmi.
It’s a year late, but happy 90th, Toots! And may you live to have a 100th birthday concert, too, at least!