Jazz CD Reviews

Toots Thielemans – Yesterday & Today – T2 Out of the Blue (2 CDs)
Grégoire Maret (Harmonica) – eOne

Three CDs of the best in jazz harmonica.

Published on March 22, 2012

Toots Thielemans – Yesterday & Today – T2 Out of the Blue (2 CDs) </br> Grégoire Maret (Harmonica) – eOne

Toots Thielemans – Yesterday & Today – T2 Out of the Blue (Universal Music) T2CD2011052 (2 CDs) [TrackList follows] *****:

Grégoire Maret (Harmonica) – eOne EOM-CD-2413 [TrackList follows] *****:

The first of these harmonica spectaculars comes from the Netherlands, although Toots’ home country is Belgium; it is a double-CD collection of tracks ranging from 1946 (the first) to 2001 (the last) – what a career!  Going to be 90 next month, the harmonica (and also guitar) ace has been doing the almost unthinkable with his more-than-a-toy instrument for all this time, taking it to places not unlike what Charlie Parker or Miles did with their more accepted instruments. There is a total of 38 tracks here, all previously unavailable, and selected by his fellow musician Cees Schrama to show the variety of music Toots played over the years, on both harmonica and guitar, plus even some of his swinging whistling. There are blues, swing, modern jazz, and he collaborates with big bands, orchestras, plays in trios, duos, and even unaccompanied, as well as vocalizing.

A few of the names on the two discs are: George Shearing, McCoy Tyner, Cal Tjader, Pucky Pizzarelli, Clark Terry, Dick Hyman and so on. In addition to some of the major names in the U.S., he plays with a number of lesser-known European musicians. There are themes from some movies: The Getaway, Baantjer, and Spartacus. The 1946 78 is the traditional “Jazz Band Ball” with a septet. Toots plays guitar on “Lullaby of Jazzland” in 1964, with McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones among others. I really liked the funky “Please Send Me Someone to Love,” with Bucky Pizzarelli and Dick Hyman’s B-3.

Sonics are fine considering the varied origin of all these recordings. Thielemans is still at it today, though he now limits himself to just two or three gigs a week. [Those underlines for the Thielemans tracklist mean you can click on any of them and hear a free sample of them at iTunes...Ed.]


Afro-Swiss-born jazz harmonicist Grégoire Maret’s self-titled debut CD demonstrates that he is probably the successor to Thielemans as the finest jazz harmonica player around. Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny and Marcus Miller have already said he’s taking the harmonica to an exciting new place in jazz. He has made guest appearances onstage with such people as Kurt Elling, Jacky Terrasson, Sting, Elton John and Prince.

His lovely first CD as a leader shows numerous possibilities for the jazz harmonica which have perhaps never before been envisioned. As the names about might indicate, Maret is as versatile with various genres as Thielemans. He has moved from jazz to soul, pop, rock and Brazilian music.

Speaking of Thielemans, the penultimate track of the 15 here is Ivor Lins’ “O Amor E O Meu Pais,” on which the two duet.  Track 2 is Stevie Wonder’s  “The Secret Life of Plants,” which was the title tune of that harmonica-playing musician’s 1979 album. Maret said he wanted to show how much love and admiration he had for Wonder and his genius—his other major influence alongside Thielemans.  Gershwin’s “The Man I Love” features a vocal by Cassandra Wilson, with whom Maret also worked, Pat Metheny’s “Travels” is another of the tracks. The disc has two three-part suites by Maret, one inspired by his touring with bassist Marcus Miller (which is continuing right now) and the other a Children’s Suite, which begins with a representation of the sounds heard within the womb.  Maret’s compositions and arrangements often make use of both voice and percussion, which he feels are the two main instruments which really reach peoples’ cores. He mentions how the mother’s voice and heartbeat are the first things we hear in the womb.

Maret’s collaborator on the CD was Federico Gonzalez Peña, who co-produced it and played keyboards on it. The other producer was Matt Pierson, whose jazz recordings have included Brad Mehldau and Joshua Redman. Maret’s debut disc augers well for our hearing more great jazz harmonica in the near future.

TrackList:
(Thielemans) 

Disc 1:
1.  Jazz Band Ball
2.  Crazy Bop
3.  It Had To Be ‘Bird’
4.  Nalen Boogie
5.  Red Devils Boogie
6.  Dynamite
7.  Love Is Just Around The Corner
8.  Caravan
9.  Cool and Easy
10.  The Cuckoo In The Clock
11.  Early Autumn
12.  Hot Toddy
13.  Lullaby Of Jazzland
14.  Melancholic Harmonica
15.  Soul Bird: Tin Tin Deo
16.  Yesterday And Today
17.  Cherokee
18.  O Susannah
19.  Please Send Me Someone To Love
20.  Barquinho
21.  Mr. Nashville

Disc 2:
1.  Chump Change
2.  Love Theme From ‘The Getaway’
3.  There Is No Greater Love
4.  That Misty Red Animal: Dat Mistige Rooie Beest
5.  Black Beauty
6.  Big Bossa
7.  The Slickest Man In Town
8.  The Late Night Wizard
9.  Fritiof Anderssons Paradmarsch
10.  Bye Bye Blackbird
11.  Midnight Sun
12.  Out Of Nowhere
13.  Spartacus: Love Theme
14.  What Kind Of Fool Am I
15.  Someone To Watch Over Me
16.  Circle Of Smiles: Main Theme from ‘Baantjer’
17.  What A Wonderful World

(Grégoire Maret CD)

1. Lucilla’s Dream
2.   The Secret Life of Plants
3. The Man I Love
4. Travels5.-7. Crepuscule Suite: 5:37 PM / Crepuscule / 4:28 AM
8. Manha du Sol
9. Prayer
10. Lembra de Mim
11.-13. Children’s Suite: The Womb / Children’s Song / Outro
14. O Amor E O Meu Pais
15. Ponta de Areia

—John Henry

 

 




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