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The harmonica is not a popular jazz instrument and since the mid-50's Toots Thielmans has been regarded as "a very big fish in a very small pond." Chez Toots stands as his tribute to the songs and sounds of the city of Paris. Toots invited some special guest vocalists to join the rhythm section of Bert van den Brink (piano), Hein Van de Geyn (bass) and Andre Ceccarelli (drums) and they all turn in pleasant, if not terribly exciting, performances. Diana Krall interprets Edith Piaf's classic La Vie En Rose; Shirley Horn is effective on La Valse Des Lilas while Johnny Mathis is only adequate on the standard Windmills Of Your Mind. While much of Chez Toots falls just this side of "easy listening," it's still a warm and nostalgic homage to a place Toot's is obviously very fond of. 3-5 stars.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.