While Django Reinhardt offered a distinct way to approach the acoustic guitar and has been recognized as a genius, his style has often had to stand in the shadow of electric players in the Charlie Christian tradition. Fortunately, recent trends toward older forms of jazz have led labels like Concord and Acoustic Disc to record exciting, Reinhardt-flavored guitarists like Frank Vignola. Blues for a Gypsy offers a rich collection of 16 originals and classics played on solo acoustic guitar. From the opening cut, "Donna Lee," this album is a feast of bluesy jazz, both fresh and invigorating. This album follows in the tradition of Joe Pass' Virtuoso series, presenting Vignola with the challenge of creating a full, engaging sound all by himself. The lazy blues-injected title cut begins with a long, playful introduction before falling into an intimate, late-night groove. The guitarist pulls out an array of techniques on the gypsy-flavored "Tears," stringing together individual notes and tastefully placed chords. He approaches "Limehouse Blues" as though determined to render it as no one ever has, setting forth an exciting, uncanny take on this classic. Self-penned originals like "By the Fire" and "Fishing With Django" fit snugly beside classic selections. The music never meanders, with most of the material on Blues for a Gypsy hovering around the three minute mark. These solo recordings, with the warmth of the acoustic guitar, give the impression of overhearing a musician quietly playing at home. The intimacy and passion of Vignola's performance guarantees that Blues for a Gypsy will be warmly received by guitar aficionados.
Blues for a Gypsy Review
by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.