Parisian harmonica player Yvonnick Prené recently released his debut album as a solo artist (March 2013) and in just over a month, the album has already earned considerable success and recognition amongst jazz fans and critics.
Jour de Fête, Prené’s début release, is a collection of seven original compositions and four jazz covers. It features Prené on harmonica alongside Michael Valeanu and Isaac Darche on guitar, Javi Santiago on piano, Or Bareket and Phil Donkin on bass, Jesse Simpson and Owen Erickson on Drums.
Jour de Fête not only showcases Prené’s talent as a player, but he also shines as an up and coming composer with this project. Drawing inspiration from his influences such as Stevie Wonder, Toots Thielemans, and Gregoire Maret as well as his life in New York, Yvonnick adds his own voice to the jazz genre with his reflective compositions and unique approach to the harmonica. As he said in the liner notes of the album, “Each song is an echo of my experiences living in New York City for the past four years and reflects the varied influences of music that inspire me, including jazz, Hip Hop and Brazilian music. My vision for this debut album is to take the harmonica into uncharted territories, expose it to challenging situations, and in the process create something pleasing for the ears.”
The album opens with “Obsessions,” an original by Prené said to reflect his “continuous quest to perfect music and to achieve fearlessness as a soloist and composer.” Following the opening track is “Thais” and Jay Livingston’s and Ray Evans’ “Never Let Me Go.” John Coltrane’s “Satellite” is fourth on the album and is a great homage to the legendary saxophonist.
“As Night Falls,” the fifth track on the album features a melodic exchange between Yvonnick on harmonica and Isaac Darche on guitar with solos by Or Bareket and Yvonnick.
After “As Night Falls” is Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma,” and then Prené’s “Home.”
My favorite song from the album, “A Billion Stars,” features a catchy piano riff, the voice of Ray Bradbury (the song is a tribute to the great Science Fiction writer), and intricate yet excellently performed solos from Yvonnick and Javo Santiago (piano).
To close out the album is Jerome Kern’s “Nobody Else But Me,” and two more original, “Escale” and “Jour de Fête.”
In a genre where saxophonists, pianists and guitarists dominate, it’s refreshing to hear this relatively uncommon instrument. Yvonnick Prené’s performance and compositional styles are most definitely a welcome addition to our album shelves. We absolutely recommend this album.
Prené began playing the diatonic harmonica at the age of 8, and at 17 switched to the chromatic harmonica after hearing Charlie Parker to delve into the jazz realm. He has since earned a Master’s degree in Music and Research at the Sorbonne University as well as numerous awards.
Since, he has moved to Brooklyn, New York where he opened the New York Harmonica School. The NY Harmonica School aims to provide harmonica players of all levels with a place to learn and jam together, get constructive feedback on their playing and meet in a friendly atmosphere.
Yvonnick Prené has had the opportunity to record and perform with musicians such as Manu Katche, Nate Smith, Ira Coleman, Ben Street, Laurent de Wilde, Alexandre Tassel Dave Glasser, and more. Read our interview with him here.
Title: Jour de Fête
Artist: Yvonnick Prené
Date: March 10, 2013
Label: SteepleChase LookOut
03 Never Let Me Go
05 As Night Falls
06 Con Alma
08 A Billion Stars
09 Nobody Else But Me
11 Jour de Fête