Harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet has played with Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, John Mayer, Ed Sheeran ... even Prince. But his biggest fan and supporter is Dave Chappelle, who worked with the Normandy native on Dave Chappelle's Juke Joint, a series of intimate parties featuring Yonnet, his Band With No Name, and an all-star cast of unannounced special guests.
That's how the comedian came to introduce Yonnet (pronounced YAH-nay) at his Tiny Desk concert. From the moment the NPR staff first heard his pocket-sized harmonica, you could feel the electricity in the room. There are virtually no limitations to this instrument in the hands of Yonnet, who is famous for his ability to play chromatic notes on a diatonic harmonica. During Chappelle's introduction, he told the crowd about how Yonnet met Wonder at the Grammys and eventually was asked to hop on the Songs In the Key of Life tour. "He's so good at playing harmonica that another man good at harmonica hired him," Chappelle has been known to say.
Yonnet began the show with a mélange of reggae, hip-hop and New Orleans funk, and his Band With No Name were right in the pocket with original funky numbers "Four20" and "FRéEDlosophy," both of which will appear on his upcoming album, Reed My Lips. Chappelle's desire to hear some of that "Mississippi Delta blues" prompted an improvised tune, "No Smokin' Blues," which gave guitarist Robbie McDonald, saxophonist Matthew Rippetoe, trumpet player Joe Herrera and keyboardist Daryl Hunt a chance to shine.
- "No Smokin' Blues"
Frédéric Yonnet (Harmonica), Dennis Turner (Bass), Robbie McDonald (Guitar), Christopher Bynum (Drums), Daryl Hunt (Keyboardist), Joe Herrera (Trumpet), Matthew Rippetoe (Trumpet, Sax)
Producers: Abby O'Neill, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Beck Harlan, CJ Riculan, Khun Minn Ohn; Production Assistants: Catherine Zhang, Téa Mottolese; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR.