One of the major jazz anniversaries of 2022 is the centenary of Toots Thielemans on Friday 29 April. LJN will be covering the big celebration of it in his native city, Brussels in the Bozar concert hall. The main London event, also on the day itself, is on a smaller scale, but involves an appearance by one of the greats of the harmonica. In his native country he fills large venues such as the National Auditorium in Madrid; he will be performing in the intimate environs of Pizza Express Dean Street. The Spaniard Antonio Serrano is a younger, world-class exponent of the instrument and is bringing his “Tootsology” programme to London, with Matyas Gayer – piano, Mark Hodgson – bass and Stephen Keogh – drums. (More details and booking link below).
Antonio Serrano writes of “Tootsology” his tribute to jazz harmonica genius Toots Thielemans:
“I was very lucky to have the chance to perform and record with Toots. It is a real pleasure and an honor to be able to use my harmonica as a medium through which I can paint a picture of one of the most impressive careers in jazz history, the career of Toots Thielemans.
“The challenge for me in this tribute to Toots consists of providing an overview of his entire career, starting all the way
back from the 50s up until the present. To do this, it’s been necessary to very carefully select the most representative
pieces of each period in his career, which is quite a complicated task considering how extensive and prolific his career
has been. However, listening to his work on those old recordings over and over again to transcribe his music has been
a rich fulfilling experience.”
- “Antonio Serrano (Madrid 1974) is considered one of the greatest harmonica players of all time.
- His greatest contribution to Spanish music was to introduce the harmonica in flamenco, further consolidating such innovation by being part of Paco de Lucia’s group between 2004 and 2014.
- His musical versatility has also led him to carry out projects and collaborations in other musical fields such as jazz, classical music, tango, and pop.
- Serrano began his musical studies with his father, who taught him to play the harmonica and to read music. Later, he studied piano and violin at the conservatories at Alicante and Madrid, concluding his harmonica training with no other than master Larry Adler, in London.
- His flawless technique led him to perform in Paris, at the age of 13, a duet with Larry Adler at a Concert for the United Nations. Adler became his mentor and they performed together countless times. In the course of his solo career, he has collaborated with symphony orchestras in Belgium, Cologne, Heidelberg, Kiel and Istanbul, among others,
playing original harmonica concertos by H. Villa-Lobos, Malcolm Arnold, Ralph Vaughan Williams, etc. and arrangements of works by G. Enescu, G. Gershwin or R. Kórsakov.
- In 2015 he was on the album Entre 20 Aguas – A La Música de Paco de Lucía which won a Latin Grammy.
- In 2017 he surprises the harmonica community by paying tribute to Toots Thielemans and is invited to the largest harmonica festivals in Europe, Asia, and the United States. This work leads to a recently published album titled
- In 2020 he worked on adapting for harmonica and orchestra Manuel de Falla’s Sombrero de Tres Picos (The Three-Cornered Hat), a work that was premiered in November 2020 with the City of Almería Orchestra under the direction of
Michael Thomas at the Manuel de Falla Spanish music festival.
- In 2020 Antonio Serrano wrote and published “Learn how to play the harmonica with Antonio Serrano”
- In July 2021, he premiered “Clazzical” in Madrid, based on the great melodies of classical music and the daring harmonies and syncopated rhythms of Jazz.
- Serrano teaches musical improvisation courses at various European conservatories, and Flamenco courses at the Berklee College of Music. He also teaches at the University of Khartoum (Sudan).”