It is with heavy hearts that we report to you the death of iconic jazz harmonica player Toots Thielmans at age 94. Thielmans is perhaps best known for playing the famous theme music for the children’s television show Sesame Street.
From NBC News:
Thielemans died in his sleep in a Belgian hospital where he’d been hospitalized since last month after a fall, The Associated Press reported. He retired from performing in March 2014, saying he found it too tiring to stand during a concert.
Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor Thielemans, also known as Baron Thielemans of Belgium, survived the Nazi occupation of his native country to launch a career as a jazz guitarist and harmonicist in the 1940s.
By 1949, at age 27, he was touring Europe with the legendary Benny Goodman Sextet, and by 1952, he’d moved to the United States to play with Charlie Parker’s All-Stars, a rotating cast of musical giants that also included Miles Davis, John Lewis (later of the groundbreaking Modern Jazz Quartet), Max Roach and many others.
Thielemans (pronounced TEEL-mons) shortly thereafter joined pianist George Shearing’s combo and played in side projects with everybody who was anybody in jazz.
He was broad-ranging in his music, appearing not only with traditional masters like Goodman, Parker, Shearing, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson, but also with electric jazz artists like Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius and Joe Pass. In 1995, Quincy Jones called him “one of the greatest musicians of our time.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with Thielmans entire family during this tragic time!