All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

2

Yvonnick Prene and Pasquale Grasso: Merci Toots

Chris Mosey By

Sign in to view read count
It is often said—rather nastily—that nobody can name five famous Belgians. Jazz fans can certainly name one: harmonicist Toots Thielemans.

Thielemans, who in 2014 announced his retirement at the age of 92, decamped from his homeland after the war to play with just about everyone in the US, including Charlie Parker and—primarily—George Shearing. He managed in the process to get the harmonica accepted as a serious—or reasonably serious—musical instrument.

Which is why Yvonnick Prene has titled his first album, Merci Toots. Prene, a Parisian now living in New York, earns a precarious living playing harmonica in clubs. He is backed by Pasquale Grasso, an Italian ex-pat, on guitar.

Their album is rooted in the bebop era, opening with Bud Powell's "Celia," which the troubled pianist first recorded in 1949 with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Max Roach. He was on temporary release from Creedmoor State Hospital, where he was undergoing psychiatric treatment. Curiously, given the circumstances, it's a cheery little tune, well suited to Prene's harmonica adaptation.

Tadd Dameron's "Dameronia" is less successful, tending to sound in this guise rather hollow. Fats Navarro—old queen that he was—would not have been amused.

Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight," Thielemans' own "Bluesette," and Paul Raye's "Star Eyes" work best of the rest, perhaps because they are less strictly bebop.

However, having said that, Prene's version of Parker's "Confirmation" very definitely has its moments.

One of the great problems with the harmonica is that- -even in the hands of a master such as Thielemans—a little goes a long way... and there's an awful lot of it here.

Track Listing: Celia; Dameronia; Koko; Round Midnight; Confirmation; Bebop; Bluesette; Little Girl Blue; Star Eyes.

Personnel: Yvonnick Prene: harmonica; Pasquale Grasso: guitar.

Title: Merci Toots | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
Read more articles
Breathe

Breathe

Self Produced
2016

buy
Merci Toots

Merci Toots

Self Produced
2015

buy
Wonderful World

Wonderful World

Self Produced
2014

buy
Jour De Fete

Jour De Fete

Steeplechase Lookout
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Music in Motian CD/LP/Track Review
Music in Motian
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Descansado - Songs For Films CD/LP/Track Review
Descansado - Songs For Films
by John Ephland
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Simbiose CD/LP/Track Review
Simbiose
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 18, 2018
Read For Lew CD/LP/Track Review
For Lew
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 18, 2018
Read "Evidence - Music of Thelonious Monk" CD/LP/Track Review Evidence - Music of Thelonious Monk
by Patrick Burnette
Published: November 27, 2017
Read "Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk" CD/LP/Track Review Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "Get 'Em" CD/LP/Track Review Get 'Em
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "Then and Now" CD/LP/Track Review Then and Now
by Duncan Heining
Published: May 2, 2017
Read "Cuban Nocturne" CD/LP/Track Review Cuban Nocturne
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 7, 2017
Read "The Book of Transfigurations" CD/LP/Track Review The Book of Transfigurations
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 8, 2017