Toots Thielemans retires at age 91

In the late 80’s. Toots played at Fat Tuesday’s in New York. I went to see him with several friends. He had a trio. After the set was over, as I walked to the men’s room Toots was walking in my direction. As he was about to pass I said, “Oh Toots, I wish you would have played the theme to ‘Jean de Florette’!”, a beautiful theme he had recorded for both this movie and its sequel, “Manon of the Spring.” Toots stopped and said, “Are you staying for another set?” I told him I hadn’t planned to, and he responded, “If you stay another set, I will play it for you. But if I forget, please remind me.” My friends left, and I stayed, and sat directly in front of the stage, several feet to the left of Toots. As the set was winding down, I called out, “Jean de Florette!” He said, “Oh yes,” and told the audience, “I sometimes record movie themes, and I recorded this theme for a movie a few years ago.” Turning to his musicians, he said, “I didn’t bring charts for this, so you guys just hang out.” He then turned his chair to face me, and locked eyes with me, and then played this beautiful theme, never once looking away. I was in tears by the end of it. Even typing this, I get choked up by it. What an extraordinary gift from a most generous and talented man.


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