23 March 2006
NY Jazz Report's Meng Meng Lim and Will Wolf visited Carnegie Hall on Thursday 16.March for the "The Magic of Toots," a celebration of Toots Thielemans.
Wolf: Everybody loves a good party. In the jazz world impresarios Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta love producing them. On this particular occasion at Carnegie Hall, as part of the Fujitsu Jazz Festival, they brought together a wide array of musical talent to help fete the harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans. Over a long, illustrious career, alone and in collaboration with a king-sized roster of jazz and non-jazz luminaries, he has continually demonstrated a special command of his instrument. As Herbie Hancock pointed out in his introduction, Toots is a magician.
Lim: And together with Hancock, he dazzled the audience early on with a masterful rendition of the pianist's classic composition "DOLPHIN DANCE." But the party was just beginning, most of the guests had not yet arrived.
Wolf: As they did, things became more and more interesting: the accordion sounds of Ludovic Beier, the beautiful "BRUSSELS IN THE RAIN" with Paquito D'Rivera, a tender " BODY AND SOUL" by Joe Lovano, Oscar Castro-Neves version of Jobim's snappy "WATERS OF MARCH," the sentimental Eliane Elias' "MOMENTS," and the vibrant Ivan Lins fueling the fire set by his Brazilian compatriots. Sometimes Toots would join in, adding his wizardry to the mix, and sometimes he'd just sit back, taking it all in and letting his guests entertain --- both him and the audience.
Lim: This was a gathering of mostly old friends, having fun celebrating their time together in joyous communion, honoring the past and elevating the present, sharing the pleasures of the music, and their love for one another. The good feeling it created touched everyone in the house. And amidst this musical cheer it was nice to see Toots even honoring himself, offering up the jazz standard, (wittily calling it) " THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER (ME)."
Wolf: Earlier he had paid homage to his wife with a lovely rendering of his "FOR MY LADY," with Joe Lovano.
Lim: The party lasted almost three hours, but all good things do come to an end.
Wolf: Toots thoughtfully mentioned that he was dedicating his special night to his wife and Louis Armstrong, and then said goodbye with the help of Kenny Werner and a poignant "WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD."
Lim: And today, a week later, I think to myself, "What a wonderful show."
TOOTS THIELEMANS Website
email Meng Meng Lim
email Will Wolf