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Front Center by Frédéric Yonnet

Belgian harmonicist Toots Thielemans has long been considered one of the finest musicians ever. Now there is a new kid on the block. French born Frederic Yonnet has released an album (Front Center) featuring his unique approach to the instrument. Drawing on soul, rock and jazz standards, Yonnet weaves his magic to create a diverse and pleasant session.

"Boogie On Reggae Woman" is one of the most rhythmically satisfying pieces from the great Stevie Wonder. In Yonnet's capable hands, the melody is even funkier than the original with plenty of improvisation and drive. Every bar pushes the envelope further resulting in a never-ending orgy of funk and sass.

The beautifully relaxed version of "God Bless The Child" is performed with style and affection. Yonnet's control and focus shine throughout, digging deep into various melodic possibilities. There is excellent backing from the band.

The Marvin Gaye classic "What's Going On?" is performed with warmth and balance. The band is tight and spot on. Evan's soulful contribution adds richness and harmonic balance. Yonnet exits on a high note revisiting the melody one more time.

Cyndi Lauper's beautiful "Time After Time" is given a soulful working with Yonnet''s moving harmonica taking center stage. Although subdued at times, Yonnet manages to retain the melody throughout. This is another fine display of how to sustain a melody without losing control.

If there were one standout on this beautiful recording, it would be Yonnet's touching version of "Amazing Grace". Recorded live in concert before an appreciative audience, Yonnet puts his heart and soul on the line with a gut busting and unforgettable rendition, that is not soon to be forgotten.

Judging from the musical and sonic quality of this auspicious debut, Front Center introduces the world to not only a fine harmonicist but also a musician searching for that elusive voice. With a first rate band, inspired performances and a desire to explore new frontiers, Yonnet is well on his way to becoming a key performer deserving wider recognition.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Frédéric Yonnet
  • CD Title: Front Center
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Independant
  • Rating: Four Stars
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