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Monday, May 13, 2024

Emmanuelle Bonnet - Pr​é​ludzet Menuet (Unit Records, 2024)

By Don Phipps

One word – beautiful. That word encapsulates vocalist and composer Emmanuelle Bonnet’s album Preludzet Menuet, a moody, evocative ode to sensuality and life. Wisely, her bandmates (Yvonne Rogers on piano, Paul Pattusch on double bass, and Lucas Zibulski on drums) make a lot of room for Bonnet’s sly and sexy vocals, resulting in a tantalizing musical journey that begs to be taken.

France has always been a land of beautiful music and art. Listening to Bonnet’s warm and enticing expressiveness and the skill she brings in articulating her vision for each song speaks to her roots. Even in numbers like the abstract and discombobulated “Prelude I” and “Prelude II,” where she pips and squeaks as the notes twist wildly about, or the ghoulish “Trut,” where she chirps away like a cricket gone haywire and the band takes it out as well, her soft yet disciplined approach shines through. Her “Trut” vocal hops and skips, plops and slides, and drummer Zibulski provides precise licks behind her imaginative musings.

“Small Piece” is haunting – like the dim light of the Los Angeles night sky – an eerie empty blackness interlaced with hazy brown incandescence that extends into forever. Consider this the musical equivalent of film noir. Bonnet does not shy away from full throated legato phrases – her breathing technique both dramatic and masterful. Pattusch provides a gentle bowed bass accompaniment, and Roger’s unwinding lines add just the right touch of black and white.

And check out her vocal on “Menuet (ou danse),” perched as it is atop Pattusch’s dancing bass. The same number features a nice back and forth between Roger’s light piano touches and Bonnet. On “In the Air” and “Left Alone,” Bonnet uses her sliding vocals and scat technique to add nuance to the solid yet shifting musical narrative.

On the final number, “Or ch'è tempo di dormire,” Pattusch opens with some slapping bass that immediately resolves into a plaintive and sensitive Bonnet vocal. The song is further propelled by Zibulski’s determined drumming. Yet on this number, it is Bonnet that soars – her voice like simultaneous sunshine and storm cloud – a juxtaposition of heart and soul. When the band takes over, Rogers offers up some definitive splattering lines – like a creek rolling through rocks – leading to Bonnet’s surprise ending - unresolved and waiting for more.

In short, Bonnet’s compositions on Preludzet Menuet are imaginative and evocative, delicate yet determined, abstract yet tuneful. And her sensual, airy vocals are simply not to be missed. Highly recommended.

"Préludzet Menuet", Bachelorkonzert Emmanuelle Bonnet from JAZZCAMPUS on Vimeo.