Song of the Day, May 24: Velas by Quincy Jones with Toots Thielemans
May 24, 2016 2 Comments
Today’s song joins two jazz legends in the midst of a dance-pop album. When Qunicy Jones formed his own Qwest label, he owed A&M one last disc. He assembled a talented group and recorded The Dude, a fun album that shows off Q’s pop smarts at their finest. Track eight is a nod to his jazz roots, featuring a lovely performance from another stalwart.
Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor Thielemans was born in Belgium in 1922. He began his career as a guitarist, going by the name “Toots”, working with a dizzying array of performers including Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Dinah Washington, as well as Jones. He began playing harmonica in the late 50s, then began experimenting with whistling. His 1962 track Bluesette is a masterpiece of jazz whistling. He has also worked as a studio musician with dozens of pop artists (notably on Billy Joel’s An Innocent Man), increasingly known for harmonica and whistling. He was styled Baron Thielmans in 2001 by the King of Belgium in recognition of his contributions to music.
Jones called up his old friend to play on Velas, a lovely instrumental written by Ivan Lins and Vitor Martins. Thielemans recorded guitar, harmonica, and whistling in Belgium, then sent the tapes to Jones. The producer mixed them with contributions from his stellar studio band for The Dude. The result is a gentle, smart track, with lovely contributions that are classic Thielemans.
Enjoy this beautiful song today.
P.S. – Sadly, Toots passed away on August 22, 2016 at the age of 94. This post is a nice tribute and overview of his career.