The Frank & Joe Show

66 2/3

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The Frank & Joe Show's second CD continues in the same vein as their debut recording. Frank Vignola, a superb Django Reinhardt-inspired guitarist, and drummer Joe Ascione, a monster percussionist who plays a subtler role in this group than typical outings, once again explore a wide range of musical styles, including standards, classical works, Latin numbers, and original compositions. The light, consistently swinging sound of the band will remind some listeners of mandolinist David Grisman's releases for Acoustic Disc, though the instrumentation of the two groups is significantly different. The delicious take of "It Might as Well Be Spring" removes any trace of the song's original wistful feeling as the band rekindles it with a brisk arrangement and a slight Latin flavor. The musicians also have a blast with classical fare. "Hungarian Dance No. 5" finds them at their most inventive, outdoing comedian Allan Sherman's hilarious vocal interpretation of the 1960s ("Hungarian Goulash No. 5") without singing a note. Their live medley of "Bach Partita No. 2 for Solo Violin" and the rapid-fire "Mozart Jam" (actually based upon the composer's "Turkish March") is a masterpiece. The weakest links remain the vocal tracks. Jane Monheit's breathy, overdone take of "Manhattan" somewhat mars an otherwise fine recording. The far better vocalist Janis Siegel helps revive the long forgotten "Glow Worm," but her multi-tracked harmony vocals prove to be a bit distracting. There is also a cooking, unlisted bonus track at the end of the CD, evidently recorded during the same live radio performance mentioned earlier. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, Victor Sheldrake, who contributed the deliberately loony liner notes.

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