Frank Vignola has demonstrated that he is capable of playing everything from fusion and commercial pop-jazz to hard bop, post-bop, and swing -- gypsy and otherwise. The native New Yorker has a wide variety of influences; everyone from Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, and Pat Metheny to Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian has affected his playing in some way, and these different influences have asserted themselves at different times in his career. He arrived as a bandleader with the album Appel Direct in 1993, with sidemen who included Junior Mance and Billy Mitchell, which received excellent critical notice and brought him to the attention of numerous musicians. A prolific traveler, he averages over 200 dates a year as a bandleader or sideman with top-shelf artists including Ringo Starr, Madonna, Donald Fagen, Wynton Marsalis, and Tommy Emmanuel. 2000's Without a Doubt was acclaimed as a post-bop classic; Vignola had enlisted jazz flute great Frank Wess, bassist Mark Egan, and longtime drummer Joe Ascione. His collaborative and tribute offerings are often the most highly regarded titles in his catalog. They include Meeting of the Grooves with Gene Bertoncini; 2006's Vignola Plays Gershwin; and Just Between Frets with Emmanuel, in addition to his now-famous 100 Years of Django, released the same year he began his exploration of American roots and swing with Mark O'Connor and Chris Thile on Jam Session. In the 2000s, Vignola has also become a recurring presence on NPR and Public television.
Vignola was raised in the New York area. The Italian-American started playing the guitar at the age of five and grew up admiring a variety of guitarists. Far from a jazz snob, Vignola never listened to jazz exclusively and was also a major fan of rock, R&B, and pop. The guitarists whom he admired ranged from jazz musicians to rock icons like Eric Clapton and Eddie Van Halen. As a young adult, Vignola studied at the Cultural Arts Center of Long Island and went on to enjoy a lot of sideman gigs in the '80s. The New Yorker was 27 when, in 1993, he signed with Concord Jazz and recorded his first Concord session as a leader, Appel Direct. Several more Concord releases followed, including 1993's Let it Happen, 1996's Look Right, Jog Left, and 1999's Déjà Vu.
Vignola then moved to Nagel Heyer for 2000's Off Broadway, after which he stayed busy delivering two well-received Django Reinhardt-influenced albums, 2001's Blues for a Gypsy and 2003's Gypsy Soul. In 2007 he paid tribute to composer George Gershwin with Vignola Plays Gershwin, and he once again honored Reinhardt with 2010's 100 Years of Django. Vignola then paired with guitarist Vinny Raniolo on two albums, the classical-leaning Melody Magic in 2013 and the more straight-ahead Swing Zing! in 2015. In 2017 Vignola collaborated with mandolinist David Grisman on the bluegrass and gypsy jazz-tinged Frank 'N' Dawg. Two years later, Acoustic Disc officially released First Time Together! with Martin Taylor and Grisman, which had previously only been available in 2012 as a privately issued CD-R.