Jazz harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans quips that his legs don't work but his mouth does.after he was pushed onstage in a wheelchair to a standing ovation during the first of two Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts this weekend celebrating his 90 years. And once he put his harmonica to his lips, he more than lived up to his words.
Thielemans, who has been in poor health, had only played once this year at a summer jazz festival in his native Belgium and had canceled all his other U.S. dates. JALC programming director Jason Olaine said that up to the last minute, the producers were not sure whether Thielemans would even be able to play at the tribute concerts.
But energized by an enthusiastic audience and his musical friends, Thielemans rose to the occasion.