Toots Thielemans

Toots Thielemans - belgian american jazz harmonica - GAM Music

©Photography / Jos Knaepen

chromatic harmonica, guitar


Brussels-born Belgian American musical legend Jean-Baptiste “Toots” Thielemans was a melodic genius, who transformed chromatic harmonica into a worldwide respected and admired virtuosic solo instrument.

He also had a unique voice on guitar (his true love), and created a new sound by whistling along his improvised lines.

A master of jazz improvisation, Toots always loved music in general, and left his mark and musical poetry on so many projects from so many different styles of music and musicians that it seems impossible not only to count them, but if he had been a “normal” session musician, it would also be impossible to define his style.

Toots was one of those rare artists like Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, La Callas, Billie Holiday, Jacques Brel, Wayne Shorter, or Michael Jackson, where one note suffices to see a recognizing shine in the eye of the listener, “Hey, that’s Toots!”.

Thielemans played with all the greats, from Charlie Parker to Paul Simon, From Elis Regina to Jaco Pastorius, from Quincy Jones to Edith Piaf, from Billy Joel to Joe Lovano, to Ivan Lins and Milton Nascimento… He made jazz history with Bill Evans, George Shearing, Shirley Horn and his European Quartet with Michel Herr, Michel Hatzigeorgiouand Bruno Castellucci (Bruno was Toots’ drummer for 42 years), and his NY trios with Fred Hersch and Adam Nussbaum, Kenny Werner and Billy Hart.

His Brazil Projects changed the world of latin jazz.

He made so many movie stars look more poignant with the countless soundtracks he recorded, enriched children’s imaginations with his sound on Sesame Street and Dunderklumpen (Sweden), and toured the world over, recording and performing with international pop stars, jazz heroes, classical masters, …

Because of health issues that led to show cancellations, Thielemans announced his retirement on 12 March 2014, cancelling all scheduled concerts.

Toots Thielemans passed away peacefully in Belgium on August 22, 2016, at the age of 94.

artist online

Bio In PDF

Artist on GAM Records

Mary Kay - Make-Someone-Happy - GAM Music

Make Someone Happy

"Mary Kay has been "singing her heart out" for many years, and finally had the opportunity to make a recording surrounded by some of the finest Belgian musicians.
I was very happy to participate in the project. Open your heart to Mary's heart and "she'll make you happy"" Toots Thielemans