Frank Vignola

100 Years of Django

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Frank Vignola is one of many jazz guitarists who has been drawn to the music of gypsy jazz legend Django Reinhardt, though a number of his compatriots have fallen short in their tributes by trying to play Reinhardt's music at a ridiculous tempo, or by copying his instrumentation. Not so with Vignola, who plays mostly with a trio and substitutes accordion player Julien Labro for a violinist, while he uses only one rhythm guitarist (Vinny Raniolo) and a bassist. The results of Vignola's efforts are superb, not merely near-rote re-creations of Reinhardt's music. Opening with an energetic setting of "Rhythm Futur," the leader and Labro share the spotlight in this frenetic swinger. Vignola's technique is marvelous in this setting of the moody ballad "Tears," opening it unaccompanied with just the rhythm section joining him at the one-minute mark. It is almost impossible for a Reinhardt fan not to include the dreamy ballad "Nuages" (translated as "Clouds," though Bucky Pizzarelli says that Reinhardt's song title was inspired by seeing steam rise from a train engine). Vignola's easygoing arrangement never gets carried away with focusing only on technique; instead, he embraces the melody and doesn't overplay his hand as he improvises around it. Fans of gypsy swing will discover 100 Years of Django as a rewarding celebration of the music of Django Reinhardt.

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