How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
If you were in New York City some Sunday night and you should chance to wander by the nightclub Sweet Rhythm, you would experience a musical happening of ever-increasing proportions. There, guitarist Frank Vignola, percussionist Joe Ascione, and “their merry band of music makers” hold court for an ever-expanding group of devotees. What makes these events noteworthy is the breadth of different musical dialects spoken: gypsy swing, breezy island melodies, cowboy kitsch, Latin and Spanish-tinged evergreens—or should I say cacti?—and jazz and pop standards coexist in a rhythmic mélange as ageless as amphora, and as trendy as tomorrow.
Record producer Joel Dorn has brought this ensemble into the studio for their debut album, a sampler that ranges from Cole Porter and Harold Arlen to a comic book hero’s theme; from Mozart and Rimsky-Korsakoff to the Doobie Brothers; from Gilbert O’Sullivan to Hoagy Carmichael. The result is a very listenable, but not particularly jazzy recording, one that plays to the considerable interest in gypsy swing that exists today. While lacking the excitement of a live performance, it nonetheless sparkles with consistent virtuoso musicianship and good humor. For instance, I was about to get indignant over the simplistic harmonization of the bridge of “Paper Moon,” when I heard the music segue into “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf,” and I realized the joke was on me. And if you pay full retail price for this album without realizing it is only 37 minutes long, the joke will be on you.
Track Listing: Begin the Beguine; Don
Personnel: Frank Vignola (guitar), Joe Ascione (percussion), and