Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Toots Thielemans: C to G Jam Blues

Back in the 1970s someone gave me a Toots Thielemans album and I dearly loved it. I never heard of Toots at the time, but grew to appreciate his guitar and harmonica talents. In fact, a little over a year ago I featured him for a solid week by giving you a taste of his work on other folks’ recordings.

Toots can make the chromatic harmonica wail, walk, and talk. I’ve tried playing chromatic harp, but cannot seem to wrap my head around it. So, I’ll stick to playing the diatonic harmonica and let virtuosos like Toots and Stevie Wonder, who are both masters of the instrument, take center stage.

I’m not sure when “C to G Jam Blues” was recorded, but it was issued as part of Verve Records’ “Jazz Masters” series between 1994-1996 Toots’ LP was the 59th in that particular series of 60 albums and it was released at the tail end of the run in ‘96. Fifty-eight of the albums featured individual artists that had recorded for Verve or another Polygram label, while albums #20 and #60 were various artists’ releases.

“C to G Jam Blues,” our Bluesday Tuesday selection, showcases the amazing talents of Toots Thielemans as he is able to go, as the title states, from the key of C to G with half-step increments. Eight song keys are utilized in this short recording – meaning that Toots had to do seven key changes. But, he does it with finesse and without missing a beat. It’s wonderful stuff from a master of his harmonica domain.

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