Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Toots Thielemans - 1992 "The Brasil Project" Vol. 1

Toots Thielemans virtually introduced the chromatic harmonica as a jazz instrument. In fact, beginning in the mid-'50s, he never had a close competitor. Thielemans simply played the harmonica with the dexterity of a saxophonist and even successfully traded off with the likes of Oscar Peterson.

Thielemans' first instrument was the accordion, which he started when he was three. Although he started playing the harmonica when he was 17, Thielemans' original reputation was made as a guitarist who was influenced by Django Reinhardt. Very much open to bop, Thielemans played in American GI clubs in Europe, visited the U.S. for the first time in 1947, and shared the bandstand with Charlie Parker at the Paris Jazz Festival of 1949. He toured Europe as a guitarist with the Benny Goodman Sextet in 1950, and the following year moved to the U.S. During 1953-1959, Toots was a member of the George Shearing Quintet (mostly as a guitarist) and freelanced for the remainder of his lengthy career in music.

He first recorded his big hit, "Bluesette" (which featured his expert whistling and guitar) in 1961, and was subsequently in great demand (particularly for his harmonica and his whistling) on pop records (including many dates with Quincy Jones) and as a jazz soloist. Toots' two-volume Brasil Project was popular in the 1990s and found him smoothly interacting on harmonica with top Brazilian musicians. Heard on numerous movie soundtracks (including Breakfast at Tiffany's and Midnight Cowboy) and also on the opening theme of television's Sesame Street, Thielemans received Jazz Master honors from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2009. He died in Belgium in August 2016 at the age of 94.

This popular set matches the brilliant harmonica player Toots Thielemans with such top Brazilian performers as Ivan Lins, Djavan, Oscar Castro-Neves, Dori Caymmi, Ricardo Silveira, João Bosco, Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento, Caetano Veloso, Luiz Bonfá, Edu Lobo and Eliane Elias, in addition to bassist Brian Bromberg, keyboardist Michael Lang, trumpeter Mark Isham and Dave Grusin. Thielemans is often in a supportive role behind the many soothing Brazilian singers and performers. The atmospheric date surprisingly does not have any Antonio Carlos Jobim songs, instead emphasizing lesser-known tunes (other than Toots' greatest hit "Bluesette"). Easily recommended to fans of Brazilian pop and jazz, this CD was soon followed by a second (and equally rewarding) set featuring many of the same performers.

Think of it, getting one of the greatest harmonica player/whistler and the music of Ivan Lins. The mix of the two blends into a sound that is fresh, lifting, and delightful to listen. All the cuts are flawless perfection of talent. My personal favorite was "Casa Forte". If you are a fan of Bossa Nova you will love "The Brazil Project". A great addition to any collection. Absolutely fabulous cd. The Brasilain sound is magnificent and wonderful to listen to while relaxing.

If you like Toots Thielemans this a CD you won't tire of. Toots has long been the master on the harp. He truly elevates this instrument from one of a novelty type to one of serious distinction. It is an exemplary recording of Brazilian Jazz, laid back easy listening at it's best. A must for every serious collector.

Track listing:

01 Começar De Novo 3:54
02 Obi 4:22
03 Felicia And Bianca 2:59
04 O Cantador 4:09
05 Joana Francesa 2:56
06 Coisa Feita 4:25
07 Preciso Aprender A Só Ser 3:17
08 Fruta Boa 5:41
09 Coração Vagabundo 4:27
10 Manhã De Carnaval 3:27
11 Casa Forte 3:37
12 Moments 2:35
13 Bluesette 9:39


Toots Thielmans - Harmonica
Dave Grusin - Piano
Lee Ritenour - Guitar
Brian Bromberg - Bass
Marc Johnson - Bass
Mark Isham - Trumpet
Ricardo Silveira - Guitar
Ivan Lins - Keyboards, vocals
Djavan - Guitars, vocals
Gilson Peranzzette - Keyboards
Jamil Joanes - Bass
Teo Lima - Drums
Cassio Duarte - Percussion
Mike Lang - Keyboards
Oscar Castro-Neves - Rhythm guitar
Chico Buarque - Vocals
Joao Bosco - Guitar, vocals
Nico Assumpcao - Bass
Milton Nascimento - Vocals
Caetano Veloso - Guitar, vocals
Luis Bonfa - Guitar
Edu Lobo - Guitar, vocals
Eliana Elias - Piano