Toots Thielemans at Tanglewood Thielemans is the man who made the harmonica a jazz instrument. In a Brazilian-heavy set recorded at the 2005 Tanglewood Jazz Festival, he's joined by Oscar Castro-Neves, Airto, and pianist Kenny Werner. Now in his 80s, Thielemans still loves to play. Collaboration between WBGO and WGBH.
NPR logo Toots Thielemans at Tanglewood

Toots Thielemans at Tanglewood

In conjunction with WBGH

Toots Thielemans in Concert on JazzSet 2005

Audio is no longer available

Toots Thielemans in Concert on JazzSet 2005

Audio is no longer available

Set List

  • "How High the Moon"
  • "Felicia e' Bianca" (Oscar Castro-Neves)
  • Two pieces by Brazilian composer Chico Buarque
  • "Waters of March" (Jobim)
  • "The Dolphin" (Luiz Eca)
  • Frank Sinatra Medley: "All the Way" and "My Way" (arr. Kenny Werner)
  • "God Bless America" (Irving Berlin)
  • "Bluesette" (Thielemans)

Toots Thielemans. Jos Knaepen hide caption

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Jos Knaepen

The Tanglewood Jazz Festival's Ozawa Hall is a gorgeous barn in the woods, and it was full to capacity — with a second audience on the lawn outdoors, under the trees — for a quartet led by Jean "Toots" Thielemans.

Thielemans made the harmonica a jazz instrument. When he came to the U.S. in the 1950s, Louis Armstrong befriended him. To commemorate that friendship, as well as Thielemans' adopted country and the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, Thielemans plays a soulful "God Bless America" in this performance.

Thielemans' guitarist (Oscar Castro-Neves) and his guest percussionist (Airto) are both Brazilian: Airto had his own radio show before he was even a teenager, and worked with Miles Davis during his fusion years — most notably on Live/Evil, On the Corner, and Bitches Brew. Pianist Kenny Werner brings a synth to move the show forward; a musical nudge, if you will.

Now in his 80s, Thielemans still loves to play. On this JazzSet, we capture one hour of his epic two-hour performance at Tanglewood.


Jazz 88 WBGO in Newark and WGBH Radio Boston co-produced a live broadcast from Tanglewood 2005, Artistic Director Fred Taylor. From WGBH, thanks to Jon Solins, Steve Charbonneau and Gary Mott. Broadcast mix by Antonio Oliart-Rose, assistant Andrew Parrella. From WBGO and JazzSet, Duke Markos mixed the music with assistants Yujin Cha and Jason O'Connell.Our Producer is Becca Pulliam. JazzSet Executive Producer is Thurston Briscoe III.

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