Presented by OLG

Celebrating Toots Thielemans with Kenny Werner & Grégoire Maret

Sat, Jun 24, 2023
National Arts Centre Fourth Stage

Kenny Werner - keyboards
Grégoire Maret - harmonica

This duo tribute to the great Toots Thielemans features Toots’s heir apparent on the harmonica, Grégoire Maret, and Toots’s longtime pianist and Musical Director Kenny Werner.

As those who followed Toots’s long career know, he wanted to play with musicians who had their own identities and who challenged him to continue to grow musically until the end. Toots took a special interest in Grégoire because Grégoire had his own sound and style, and while influenced by Toots, never sought to copy him. Accordingly, his and Kenny’s tribute will feature songs Toots loved to play, including his standard Bluesette, of course, but in their own way, with new harmonies, rhythms, and arrangements. As Grégoire puts it, they will “find new places where his spirit is truly honored but his music is being played through a new prism.”

Kenny Werner

Kenny Werner is a world-renowned pianist and composer and a Grammy-nominated artist who has won multiple other awards. Werner has put out over 30 CDs as a leader and has composed for many of the major Jazz and Symphony Orchestras around the world, including the BBC Orchestra. His album of original compositions, No Beginning No End - a meditation on loss, death, and renewal - was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 2010.

Throughout his career Werner has performed with numerous jazz greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Charles Mingus, Archie Shepp, Joe Lovano, Chris Potter, Mel Lewis, Eddie Gomez, Ron Carter, Bobby McFerrin, Lee Konitz, John Scofield, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Toots Thielemans, and Charlie Haden. His working quintets in the 21st Century have featured David Sanchez, Randy Brecker, Antonio Sanchez, Brian Blade, Scott Colley, and John Patitucci, among others.

Besides his playing, Werner is known for his 1996 book Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within, which led to his being invited to lecture and teach musicians all over the world to reclaim their love for and power in their music. In 2014, twenty years after publishing the book that sold over 150,000 copies, he became the Artistic Director of the Effortless Mastery Institute at Berklee College of Music in Boston.


Grégoire Maret

Grammy winner, Swiss born harmonica player and composer, Grégoire Maret moved to New York City at 18 years old to study at the New School University. Over the course of the past decade, Grégoire has emerged as a unique and compelling new voice across a wide spectrum of the modern jazz world. That his chosen instrument - the harmonica - is a relative rarity in the genre is one element in his singular sound, but far from the whole explanation. After all, the extensive list of heavy- hitters who have enlisted him for their own projects is unparalleled: Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Cassandra Wilson, and Marcus Miller are some of his most prominent employers, none of whom have the patience to employ novelty for novelty's sake.

His guest appearances on recording sessions and concert stages expand that list to even more jaw-dropping proportions: Prince, Sting, Elton John, Jimmy Scott, Dianne Reeves, Toots Thielemans, Raul Midón, Richard Bona, Terri Lyne Carrington, Tito Puente, Kurt Elling, Mike Stern, Jeff “Tain” Watts and Charlie Hunter have all made use of Maret's unmatched palette of color.

Along the way, Maret has redefined the role of the harmonica, finding fresh pathways through a remarkable variety of styles. Herbie Hancock has called Maret "one of the most creative musicians around," while Marcus Miller has declared that he is "carrying the instrument into the 21st century with prowess, passion, and creativity."