Jean Baptiste Thielemans. Born April 29, 1922, in Brussels, Belgium.
The greatest harmonica player I've ever heard. This guy can make that little piece of tin sing like a choir. He tends to use the chromatic harmonica, and actually turned that into a respected instrument, especially for jazz and some of the more refined versions of pop music.
He began by playing the accordion, but changed to guitar and was actually a somewhat famous jazz guitarist for several years. His mentor was Django Reinhardt, who should be any guitarist’s mentor if he's got a brain in his head.
Toots toured as a guitarist with Benny Goodman's Sextet as well as George Shearing's quintet in the 1950's. But it has been his harmonica work which has kept him fed all these years.
He's played with Marc Jordan (one of my favourite unknown singer/songwriters on a song called "Reckless Valentine." Don't you love that title? You'd probably like the song, too.).
He also played with Billy Joel. I know it's fashionable to hate that little sawed-off bastard, but the harmonica solo in "Leave A Tender Moment Alone" is breathtaking.
Some other folks he's done work with whom you might know:
And this list is by no mean complete.
Editors Note: Toots Thielemans died on August 22, 2016, at the age of 94.No cause of death was given.