When it comes to the harmonica, Frédéric Yonnet knows how to turn skeptics into believers. Yonnet – as part of a wave of that emerged from Europe’s jazz underground – is one of a handful of musicians to successfully demonstrate the harmonica’s versatility as a lead instrument in contemporary jazz, R&B and other genres of music.
Using an instrument that many have owned but few have mastered, urban jazz harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet’s musical skills and stage presence crushes every preconceived notion that you’ve ever had about the harmonica. Known for decades as the choice instrument of street musicians and loners who wanted to express themselves through country music or the blues, in Yonnet’s hands it becomes something else entirely: a lead voice in urban jazz, R&B and hip-hop. With each performance, stereotypical walls come tumbling down as Yonnet presents the harmonica in a refreshing and modern context. It’s stylish. It’s cool. It’s brilliant. His impressive style has led to performances, tours and recordings with some of the heaviest hitters in the business including the legendary Stevie Wonder, music icon Prince, award-winning songwriter David Foster, game-changing instrumentalist Kenny G, American Idol’s Randy Jackson, and R&B artists Erykah Badu, Wyclef, Indie.Arie, and John Legend. Rolling Stone magazine referred to Yonnet as “Prince’s killer harmonica player” and praise from comedian Dave Chappelle, contemporary jazzman Bob James, songstress Patti Austin and producer Pharrell Williams have affirmed his mission to change the way the music industry, musicians and enthusiasts regard the pocketsize reed instrument.