Yvonnick Prene – Merci Toots

Opening with ‘Celia’, Merci Toots’ feels from the start a laid back and relaxed approach to the instrumental jazz genre.

Merci TootsThe music feels confident and effortless, as the guitar and harmonica work together to create a sonic dance as they intertwine, come away, and circle around each other. ‘Round Midnight’ is one of those tracks that is simply perfectly titled – it creates the exact feel of being sat in a smoky lounge bar while the chairs and being stacked up on the tables while the last few people slink away to wander home under the dim street light. ‘Koko’ moves into a slightly different direction, this time drawing on a more latin feel. At times the guitar gets a little carried away and starts to sound like the theme from Ren And Stimpy, but in many ways this all simply adds to the fun and joy that is to be found in the instrumentation. ‘Dameronia’ uses the harmonica in a familiar and relaxed way, punctuating the track in a way that allows the guitar plenty of room and space to breathe. Expression is the name of the game here, and is seen in a similar fashion on ‘Bluesette’, which dances like a flower in the summer breeze. The notes rise and fall, heading high up into the skies at times, making the melody attention grabbing and distinctive, all the while managing to maintain a restful feeling of peacefulness. ‘Confirmation’ pushes out a more insistent rhythm, leaning more heavily towards the lounge jazz style that simply aches for the presence of a double bass. Having said that, the simplicity of the music works incredibly well, and allows a lot of space and freedom for the harmonica to move back and forth freely with its quick trills and long, languishing notes. ‘Little Girl Blue’ carries a melancholy tone that works well as a slight foil to the mostly saccharine tunes found on the album – sad sounding, yes, but not without a profound sense of hopefulness. The guitar work gives a weighty and confident foundation, while the harmonica wails its mournful notes that at times feel as if they could easily morph into a rendition of ‘Moon River’ at any moment. ‘Be Bop’ could easily be mistaken for some kind of unprepared free jazz, which is where the track’s genius lies. Sounding like a song is being played off the cuff when it has in fact been carefully worked on and rehearsed is a true skill, and can have a real impact on the way the music is received. It pays off in spades here, and adds to the creative beauty to be found throughout the album. Merci Toots draws to its end with ‘Star Eyes’, which while it might not do anything that is going to be any kind of surprise to anyone who has listened to the rest of the record, it does serve as an appropriate call back to the laid back and relaxed vibe that has run throughout every track.