The Frank and Joe Show: 33 1/3 (2004)
Their debut release, 33 1/3 , combines multiple styles in a tribute to the LP era and is one heck of an entertaining ride. Tunes like "Begin the Beguine" are taken at a brisk and joyful pace, and balance chops with wit and panache, whereas "It's Only A Paper Moon," normally taken at a brisk pace by Django, is slyly taken at a meandering tempo. To add to the fun, guest stars like Dr. John and Jane Monheit bring their own approach to a couple of standards. The only missteps occur on the second side. For a band so thoroughly devoted to approaching serious songs like "Besame Mucho" with a mischievous spirit, there's no way to tackle novelties like "Spiderman" without laying it on too thick, and "Flight of the Bumblebee" is an exercise in breathless dexterity that probably works well in front of an audience but seems needlessly flashy on record.
When it gets right down to it, 33 1/3 proves that the Frank & Joe Show is probably a great live act worth catching when it comes into town. However, like other great live acts, the studio recordings, without the interplay with the audience, fall a little short and seem over rehearsed. Also, Clearly Vignola and Ascione have the chops to really have a go at some of these songs into extended jams, but the LP format they've chosen limits the songs to a brief running time and robs us of that pleasure. Sill, though, 33 1/3 makes the case that the Frank & Joe Show is a band worth following.
Track Listing: 1. Begin the Beguine 2. Don't Fence Me In 3. Tico Tico 4. Mozart Jam 5. Sheik of Araby 6. Sweet Rhythm 7. Besame Mucho 8. Spiderman 9. Paper Moon 10. Long Train Runnin' 11. Alone Again Naturally 12. Flight of the Bumblebee 13. Stardust.
Personnel: Frank Vignola - guitar; Joe Ascione - percussion; Sean Smith, Joel Forbes, Gary Mazzaroppi - bass; Steven Bernstein - trumpet; Charles Burnham - violin; Mac Rebennack - piano; Chuck Ferruggia - tambourine holder. Guest Vocalists: Dr. John on #5; Jane Monheit on #7; Janis Siegel on #2.
Record Label: Hyena Records