Thoughts on a Music Called Jazz

There is really no such thing as a music called jazz, or a music called bluegrass or a music called blues, music called black music or music called white music. It is all music from America. A vibrant living music. In the end, the names do nothing but to segregate music at different drinking fountains. The best of American bands can play any of these strands well. I was blown away when the Lyle Lovett large band opened their show with Charlie Parker’s Donna Lee. A band from the heart of “country” music, playing another music from the opposite hue of the musical spectrum. The tempo was blazing. The solos were fresh. But bands with great players from Nashville can do that kind of thing and make it feel natural. The concept that jazz is America’s “classical” music I find disturbing as it means that it has died and run its course. When Bach and Mozart were writing and playing, it was not classical anything. It was just music.

Photo is of Kai Lyons and Paul Lyons.

Toots Thielemans Solo on “Don’t Blame Me” – Jazz Harmonica Transcription

We all have all been listening to Toots and probably never knew it. Paul Simon records. Film scores like “Midnight Cowboy.” He basically put the modern, chromatic harmonica on the jazz and popular music map. I am presently on a personal project to transcribe a bunch of his solos. In this post, I present his solo on the album “Man Bites Harmonica” and the song “Don’t Blame Me.”

Of course, with these sorts of transcriptions it is best not to just read the take down. It is best to listen to the solo and get into it and transcribe it in your head. Perhaps the hardest thing is getting to know his phrasing. Toots has a very fluid way with his lines. It often seems like he is at a cocktail party – he sort of stumbles around the hors d’oeuvres, moseys towards the bar then says high to woman by the dessert table. His style is instantly identifiable. Do not be tempted into thinking his music is lightweight as he makes it all sound so easy. The guy knows his stuff and has serious chops.

Toots Thielemans Solo- Don’t Blame Me (pdf)

10 Toots Thielemans Chromatic Harmonica Solos – Transcribed and Analyzed

By Paul Lyons


Now available at Lulu Press

An in-depth look at the style of one of the great improvisors of the last 50 years. Excellent for not only chromatic harmonica players, but jazz players of all instruments.

Table of Contents

Introduction – 3

Why Transcribe – 5

Don’t Blame Me – Man Bites Harmonica! (Riverside, 1958) – 6

Three In One – Man Bites Harmonica! (Riverside, 1958) – 11

Sno’ Peas – Bill Evans Affinity (Warner Bros., 1979) – 18

Blue in Green – Bill Evans Affinity (Warner Bros., 1979) – 20

Jesus’ Last Ballad – Bill Evans Affinity (Warner Bros., 1979) – 23

Only Trust Your Heart – Only Trust Your Heart (Concord Records, 1988) – 26

C To G Jam Blues – Footprints (Polygram Records, 1991) – 30

Felicia and Bianca – The Brasil Project (BMG, 1992) -36

Coisa Feita – The Brasil Project (1992, BMG) – 38

Everybody’s Talkin’, Midnight Cowboy: Original Motion Picture Score [Soundtrack] (1969) – 45

Conclusion – 48

References – 48

Etudes – 49 – 80