‘Toots’ Thielemans (1922-2016)

Jean-Baptiste Frederic Isidore Thielemans, more widely known as ‘Toots’, died last week. The Belgian-born musician played and popularized the jazz harmonica and could well claim the title of the musician whose work people in the US recognize the most while knowing the performer the least.

Most people would immediately recognize his work on the theme from Sesame Street, here heard in the closing credits of the original season.

But I also like the haunting theme he played on the beautiful and memorable soundtrack in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy.


  1. grasshopper says

    I was introduced to jazz harmonica by listening to The Goon Show. From Wikipedia: ” …Max Geldray was a jazz harmonica player. Best known for providing the musical interludes for The Goon Show, he was also credited as being the first harmonica player to embrace the jazz style.”

    While mentioning great harmonica players, let’s not forget Larry Adler, a virtuoso performer who played Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky and Gershwin, just to name a few classica/jazzl composers.

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    grasshopper @2:

    I was introduced to jazz harmonica by listening to The Goon Show

    Same here. And of course there was also the Ray Ellington Quartet, and the BBC light orchestra conducted by Wally Stott! Ah the memories, Eccles.

    Thanks for the Adler mention; there’s some old favourites I’d never heard on harmonica;

    Rhapsody in Blue (starting after 3 minutes)
    Clair de lune (starting about 1:30)

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