RECORD REVIEW: 100 Years Of Django – Frank Vignola

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I bought this CD while attending the LIVE OAK MUSIC FESTIVAL outside of Santa Barbara California in the Spring of 2010. Frank Vignola’s band was playing. It was the first and only time I had seen them. This is the fourth release I have under his name. Buying music at concerts always seems like a great idea. Many times the music is not readily available or out of print. I don’t even remember paying tax either. The same could be said for purchasing products at farmers markets, yard sales, etc. A tax free loophole is always nice.

Regarding the music contained on this disc and all of Frank Vignola’s is superb! All of the selections were composed by DJANGO REINHARDT and arranged by Frank. The selections range from obscure (Mystery Pacific) to well known (Nuages) and are treated with a lively sense of acoustic madness. The selections also range in dynamics from straight be-bop, classical influence, gypsy swing, and ballad. Two guitars, upright bass, and accordian make up this group. All are top-notched players. The two stand-outs are Frank on lead guitar and Julien Labro on accordian.

Anyone who plays this sort of gypsy swing music follows the same approach that Django used; lots of energy. It seems that even the slow songs are beaming like a neon light ready to burst. How that happens in a relaxed mode is a mystery to me. The other feature that always keeps me attuned is the sense of humor. Frank Vignola’s band has developed their own style of humor. While watching them play live, in the heat of the moment they all stopped on a dime to pose for an imaginary photographer in the audience. Yes, it was a schtick but it worked and took the audience by surprise. Next came the request for songs. After about four requests, Frank says “OK we can play those”. At that point, each member of the group started playing a different song at the same time. It was a cacophonous mess but funnier than french fries on a frozen fruitpie.

- Tom Skelly

“The Sound of Pictures” (Sundays 7-10pm)

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