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Fujitsu Jazz Festival
The Magic of Toots: A Celebration of Toots Thielemans
March 16, 2006, New York - Carnegie Hall
Produced by Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta
by Roberta E. Zlokower
photo courtesy by Roberta E. Zlokower

Fai click qui per leggere la versione in italiano

Featuring Toots Thielemans on Harmonica
Special Guests:
Herbie Hancock
on Piano
Ivan Lims
on Keyboard and Vocals
Paquito D'rivera
on Clarinet
Eliane Elias on Vocals
and Piano
Joe Lovano
on Saxophone
Oscar Castro-Neves
on Guitar
Ludovic Beier
on Accordion
Kenny Werner
, Musical Director, on Piano,
Scott Colley on Bass
Ari Hoenig on Drums

Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta once again produced a full and eclectic program in tribute to one virtuoso artist, with the varying ensembles of numerous other artists, one of whom, in this case Paquito D'rivera, was awarded his own tribute last year. The charismatic pianist, Herbie Hancock, generously and warmly introduced Toots Thielemans, the Belgian-born harmonica player, who has performed with Charlie Parker, Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, and Paul Simon. Herbie Hancock played a melancholy piece for Toots in his honor, before Toots and Herbie performed an abstract, romantic work together, composed by Paul Simon.

With the shift to Herbie Hancock's The Dolphin Dance, with bass and drums enthusiastically played by Scott Colley and Ari Hoenig, the audience seriously warmed up. Michel Legrand's I Will Wait for You followed, and now Ludovic Beier was onstage, a familiar musician to this magazine and a standard performer in the Stratta-Philips' Django Reinhardt series. Tonight, Ludovic was rousingly applauded in his Carnegie Hall debut, as his unique accordion could break one note into ten. Paquito D'rivera, good friend of Toots, brought his clarinet for Brussels in the Rain, switching themes with Toots, who played endlessly and tirelessly tonight, making his harmonica sound like a tiny orchestra. Paquito's duet with Toots was filled with humor and harmony.

Kenny Werner and Herbie Hancock took turns at the piano all evening. In fact, they also switched seats with Eliane Elias, a Brazilian vocalist-pianist, with Kenny Werner taking one electric keyboard and Ivan Lins, another Brazilian vocalist-pianist taking a second keyboard. This was one classy Brazilian-Fusion Jam. A special moment occurred with Joe Lovano coming onstage with Toots, accompanied by the piano trio. Joe Lovano is an imposing presence, and his saxophone soared and sang. Toots' composition, For My Lady, written for his wife, who beamed in the audience, was a ballad that built in magical momentum. There Will Never Be Another You brought Herbie Hancock back on enchanting piano trills, along with an increased ensemble accompanying Toots.

Toots, Oscar Castro-Neves, Ludovic Beier, Paquito D'Rivera

Eliane Elias was the next addition on piano, plus Oscar Castro-Neves, a renowned Brazilian guitarist, plus Toots, with bass and drums. Jobim's music resonated throughout the Hall, as piano, guitar, and harmonica blended beautifully. Jobim's Waters of March was sung in English, and the musicians added campy gestures for audience engagement. Momentos, by Eliane, was ever so soft and mellow. A full Brazilian fusion ensued, with Ludovic returning with Paquito and Joe Lovano. Ivan Lins, who sometimes sounded like a Brazilian Aznavour, sang at his keyboard, with the glamorous Eliane on piano, Oscar Castro-Neves on guitar, Toots on harmonica, Kenny Werner on another keyboard, and bass and drums on the side. This was truly a one-time event, with non-other than Tony Bennett in the audience.

Scott Colley, Toots, Oscar Castro-Neves, Ludovic Beier, Paquito D'Rivera, Joe Lovano, Ivan Lins

Jacques Brel's Ne Me Quitte Pas, one of my favorites, found Toots in an ethereal duet with Kenny Werner. It was brilliantly conceived to have a pure harmonica performance for the audience at this point in the program, and Kenny Werner showcased Toots as well as his own talent. The fun began again when Herbie Hancock joined Eliane Elias on the same piano bench in a four-hand performance, as Toots pulled out his own guitar! Another surprise. The show ended with Ivan Lins singing again, amidst the entire ensemble of intriguing, international musicians. There were warm goodbyes, on harmonica and in spoken words. Kudos to Stratta-Philips, and kudos to Toots Thielemans.

Herbie Hancock & Eliane Elias

Kenny Werner, Ari Hoenig, Ivan Lins

Joe Lovano, Oscar Castro-Neves

Tony Bennett

Kenny Werner, Toots and Scott Colley

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Publishing Date: 04/09/2006

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