Toots Thielemans on his musical roots

Now, A Jazz Moment...

MUSIC: "Sous le Ciel De Paris," CD: Chez Toots, RCA Victor (ASIN: B000005YTT) (cut 1) (iTunes download)

The musical roots of NEA Jazz Master Toots Thielemans are right out of a European storybook. As a little boy growing up in Brussels, he began to play music on a cardboard accordion for patrons at his parents' modest café. He was just five years old when he first demonstrated his musical abilities.

Toots Thielemans: One day, my mama took me to see the film with Ramón Novarro. The song was "Ramona, da-de-de-de-de," (sings in French). So we go see that and I come home and I played on the accordion. (Plays tune on harmonica) Well not perfectly, but I was just 5 years old!

At age 17, Thielemans took up the chromatic harmonica. Since then, he's been known as the pre-eminent exponent of this instrument in jazz.

Toots Thielemans: I have been trying to be a creative musician since 1945. And in those 60 years, more than 60, look what happened!

MUSIC: up and fades

This Jazz Moment with harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans was created by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Toots Thielemans on his musical roots