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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Man Bites Harmonica +
Road to Romance

Solar distributed by
Discovery 4569932



1. Bluesette
Man Bites Harmonica
2. East Of The Sun
3. Don't Blame Me
4. 18th Century Ballroom
5. Soul Station
6. Fundamental Frequency
7. Struttin' With Some Barbecue
8. Imagination
9. Isn't It Romantic
Road to Romance
10. Isn't It Romantic
11. Homesick, That's All
12. Penthouse Serenade
13. A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody
14. This Is Always
15. Stranger In Paradise
16. Stairway To The Stars
17. Love Walked In
18. Long Ago And Far Away
19. I Loves You, Porgy
20.You Stepped Out Of A Dream
21. You're Driving Me Crazyh

Toots Thielemans - Harmonica, guitar
Peter Jacques - Organ (track 1)
Jimmy Woode - Bass (track 1)
Conny Svensson - Drums (track 1)
Pepper Adams - Baritone sax (tracks 2-9)
Kenny Drew - Piano (tracks 2-9)
Wilbur Ware - Bass (tracks 2-9)
Art Taylor - Drums (tracks 2-9)
Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra (tracks 10-21)


Belgian Toots Thelemans established himself as a harmonica-player, albeit in a very narrow field. But, inspired by Django Reinhardt, he is also an accomplished guitarist and in that capacity played for the Benny Goodman Sextet and the George Shearing Quintet.

This album collates two LPs and puts on CD for the first time the original recording of his most famous composition, Bluesette, on which he whistles along with his guitar. His performance of the iconic tune shows the number of counter-melodies it can acommodate. He can even make the mouth organ sound poignant, as he does on Don't Blame Me. And Ray Bryant's 18th Century Ballroom displays Toot's dexterity on guitar.

On this first session, recorded in New York in 1957, Toots' high-pitched harmonica blends comfortably with Pepper Adams' baritone sax. Of the other small-group members, Kenny Drew shows himself particularly suited to the blues of Soul Station. Both Drew and Adams contribute shapely solos throughout.

After the undiluted jazz of the previous eight tracks, the jazz fan will find less to interest him or her in the remainder. Kurt Edelhagen is brought in to conduct lush arrangements with sweeping strings and cooing choirs. This reduces the amount of jazz solos which Toots can add - his usual role is to state the melody of each romantic tune, after which the orchestra takes control. Surely a more appropriate coupling could have been found to round out the excellent opening tracks? This LP illustrates the easy-listening side of Thielemans, and I prefer the mainstream and bebop styles of the man.

Tony Augarde

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