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Vince Giordano: Hot Jazz for The Aviator

By Published: January 11, 2005
AAJ: It's that passion for details and for the original music and recordings that set the Nighthawks apart. What does "'authenticity" mean to you?

VG: To me, what I hear on those old recordings is a different language from what is being spoken today. I hear a language of musicians that spoke very intensely. They seemed to have more thrust in what they were playing, and more feel, than musicians of today. Use of vibrato was so prevalent in the brass. I keep telling my guys, "Listen to Louis Armstrong, listen to Benny Goodman, particularly at the very end of their phrasing. That was part of the language and it's like cooking a meal. If you're reading from a cookbook and you're missing one of the ingredients it's not going to be the same. It can't be. We don't know what Mozart played like, or Brahms played like.

We don't know how bad or good or fast or slow those fellows played the original arrangements, but we do have the original recordings from the Teens on up and that's great, but it's bad. It's great to hear it, but it's bad when you can't get the musicians to be on the same page as that.

I've been criticized for freezing jazz—playing the notes as written as far as the solos. I just want to say, you know they have the Louis Armstrong festival on WKCR and we listen to Louis. Why do we keep on going back to those recordings? We've heard a lot of people play these songs—same ones—but when Louis played his notes—and those particular notes and those particular inflections that he played— these are the things that we keep going back to. Listen to those notes and listen to the intensity of those notes. These were classic pieces of music. Just like Beethoven's Fifth or Mozart's Magic Flute.

I mean, nobody's changing those notes. They could, but they want to hear what Mozart wrote. Why can't we pay homage to these musicians and the choices of notes that these guys thought in their heads? Before these guys there was no jazz. These were the creators. These were the Mozarts of their time. Do I get a lot of flack from this stuff, I'll tell you. I don't mean to be a museum piece or anything. We take liberties. Sometimes it' s hard to get the enthusiasm from musicians today. The music that we hear on recordings, that was the music of the time, that was the hip stuff, that was the rock and roll. They were up there and the chicks were coming after them.

They were getting the money and they were getting their pictures in Metronome and Downbeat and people were reviewing them and everything was hunky dory. It ain't that way anymore. None of the above happens anymore. And that's fine too, but in a way it's a little melancholy. Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks appear Monday and Tuesday nights 8:30-11:30 at Charley O's Times Square Grill, 611 Broadway at West 49th street, Manhattan.

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