Toots Thielemans: European Quartet Live (2010)
Thielemans' playing is so organic, so completely governed by the breath of life, that his music seems to come from deep within his soul. This is something that defined the finest on their instrumentsas Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt did on alto saxophone, John Coltrane did on tenor and (later) soprano saxophone, and Louis Armstrong, Jabbo Smith and Bubber Miley did on trumpet, to name but a few. Thielemans can do no wrong, for instance, with his own now-classic composition, "Bluesette," but it is on Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" that he comes into his own. Performed solo, Thielemans draws everyone into the vortex of dimly lit alleys, illuminated by his high and lonesome sound, as if it were coming from a dive where imaginary dancers cling to each other swaying, drunk as much with the music as with love for one another.
The effect on the music on the mind's deep and secretive ear is much the same with John Barry's "Theme from Midnight Cowboy," only this time the rest of the quartet rises to the occasion, lifting not only Thielemans' playing, but each others' as well. Producer/bassist Hein Van de Geyn performs with swaggering brilliance, and his solo that ensues toward the latter half of the song marks him not only as a sensitive accompanist, but also as a singular artist, capable of a certain, memorable melodicism. Pianist, Karel Boehlee provides the perfect foil to Thielemans throughout, and his stunning turns on "I Loves You Porgy" and on "Summertime" must also single him out for special mention. Drummer Hans van Oosterhout is just as deft an accompanist as his partner on the bass, and his rousing choruses on "Summertime" are also quite memorable.
However, it is probably Jacques Brel's elementally sad, "Ne Me Quitte Pas" that makes this album a stellar one. Although it may not come to be as widely sold as Toots Thielemans' The Brasil Project Vol. I (Private Music, 1992) or The Brasil Project Vol. 2 (Private Music, 1993), surely European Quartet Liveranks as one of Thielemans' most definitive releases to date.
Track Listing: I Loves You Porgy; Summertime; ComeÇar De Novo; The Days of Wine and Roses; Circle of Smile; 'Round Midnight; Les Feuilles Mortes; Theme from Midnight Cowboy; On Green Dolphin Street; Ne Me Quitte Pas; Bluesette; For My Lady.
Personnel: Toots Thielemans: harmonica; Karel Boehlee: piano, synthesizer; Hein Van de Geyn: double-bass; Hans van Oosterhout: drums.
Record Label: Challenge Records