187

Benson, Thielemans Honored as NEA Jazz Masters

SOURCE:

Sign in to view read count
Guitarist George Benson had a chance to reconnect with his jazz roots when he was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts as one of its 2009 Jazz Masters. But it was another newly minted Jazz Master, Belgian-born Toots Thielemans, who provided the most moving moment at the NEA's annual ceremony to present the nation's highest jazz honor.

Thielemans, 86, accompanied by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, played a moving version on harmonica of “What A Wonderful World," which he dedicated to his “musical guru," Louis Armstrong.

Thielemans, whose harmonica has been heard by generations of children on the “Sesame Street" opening theme, said he got hooked on jazz during the German occupation in the 1940s, when he first heard recordings of Armstrong with the Mills Brothers.

“How are you going to follow that?" quipped another new Jazz Master, alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, 81, who took the stage Friday night at the Rose Theater right after Thielemans to perform the ballad “Body and Soul" with the orchestra.

Thielemans is the first European-born musician, harmonica player and baron (he was given the title in 2001 by King Albert II of Belgium) to be named an NEA Jazz Master. He recalled the warm welcome he received from African-American jazz musicians after he settled in the U.S. in 1952 — from singer Dinah Washington, who cooked him a soul food dinner, to pianist Billy Taylor, who let him sit in with his band at a New York club while he was waiting for his musicians' union card.

Continue Reading...

This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz Publicity.
Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

Visit Website

For interview requests or more information contact .

Post a comment

Tags

Shop Amazon

Jazz News

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.