WMU News

Jazz legend Toots Thielemans performs at WMU

Nov. 4, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- One of the most legendary figures in jazz, Toots Thielemans, will perform at Western Michigan University on Tuesday evening, Nov. 21. He will be joined by acclaimed pianist Fred Hersch. The concert begins at 8 p.m. in the Dalton Center Recital Hall.

General admission tickets will be available at the door for $15. Students and senior citizens will be charged $5.

Over the past half century, Jean "Toots" Thielemans has established himself as the acknowledged master of the chromatic harmonica. He has toured and appeared with such jazz luminaries as Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker. A European tour in 1950 with Goodman was the first of its kind to showcase the harmonica.

Toots' playing has been heard on movie soundtracks as well as "Sesame Street," for which he wrote the theme. Over the years, he has taken a simple instrument with folkloric baggage and brought it into the contemporary jazz ensemble. His most recent recording, Chez Toots (Private Music), blends his unique harmonica style with a variety of jazz ensemble, vocal, and choral settings of classic French songs. In his liner notes, Toots explains that Chez Toots is "a return to my childhood and early professional experiences" as a young musician in pre-war Brussels. More recently, Toots guested on pianist Fred Hersch's Jazz Impressions of French Classics.

Media contact: Kevin West; 616 387-4678; kevin.west@wmich.edu

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