Frank Vignola needs no introduction to most American fans of Django Reinhardt. He has released several albums of swing influenced in part by the Gypsy guitarist and formed Hot Club USA to release the CD Django Lives in 1999.
This new CD is subtitled Gypsy Jazz Guitar Solos, and features Vignola alone with his Favino petite bouche Selmer copy. He covers a wide range of tunes from Gypsy jazz standards such as Django’s “Tears” and “Manoir de mes Reves” to classics like Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee” and Erroll Garner’s “Misty.” Also included are six original compositions.
If you’re searching for Django here, you may be disappointed: Vignola is not seeking to ape the master. Rather, he has crafted his own style based on his personal influences, which run from Django to Joe Pass and Johnny Smith. Thus, Vignola’s “Gypsy jazz” is without doubt an American translation of the idiom.
Vignola’s guitar is big and warm. He finds rich chordal sounds in his Favino that most guitarists following in Django’s footsteps never hoped for – or even strived for. Blending chord comping with solo lines, he juggles with the melody and improvises freely throughout.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Sept. ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.