The Belgian jazz harmonica great Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor, Baron Thielemans, better known as Toots Thielemans, has died. NPR reports that Thielemans died yesterday in his sleep at home in Brussels. He was 94.
Theilemans got his start as a guitarist in the late ’40s and early ’50s, performing with musicians like Miles Davis and Charlie Parker when they’d come to Europe. He also toured the continent with Benny Goodman. He soon moved to America and, while he still played guitar, he concentrated more and more on harmonica and on whistling. His song “Bluesette” became a standard, and he worked frequently with Quincy Jones. He performed frequently on film scores, and you can hear his work in movies like Drugstore Cowboy and The Getaway, as well as on the end credits of Sesame Street, where he played a harmonica version of the show’s theme music. He continued touring until a couple of years ago. Below, watch a few videos of him onstage.