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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Ascione Quartet: Movin' Up

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Movin' Up is the perfect CD for those who like their jazz straight up and swinging, as well as both traditional and imaginative at the same time. These adjectives also describe uberdrummer Joe Ascione, the versatile, first-call sideman who's been on hundreds of other people's CDs. Recorded in October of 2007, this is only his third album as leader, and it's a corker from beginning to end.

To be more specific: Movin' Up begins with the infectious title shuffle, written by Ascione, that first reveals the copious talents of the band, including John Concuzzi's fine doubling on piano ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Vignola/Joe Ascione: 66 2/3

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The Frank & Joe Show's second release finds the group expanded to a sextet--lead guitarist Frank Vignola and percussionist Joe Ascione add rhythm guitarist Ken Smith, bassist Gary Mazzaroppi, and percussionists Chuck Ferruggia and Rich Zukor to the roster (the disc also includes one vocal apiece by Jane Monheit and Janis Siegel). The “show opens with Rodgers and Hammerstein's standard “It Might As Well Be Spring done with a samba-like beat. Vignola plays the melody, then goes off into a gentle guitar solo as Ascione provides the rhythmic sway. “My Prayer features a tasty Vignola solo. Jane Monheit ...

INTERVIEWS

Joe Ascione and His Brave New World

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Joe Ascione is a first-call, universally-respected drummer who has been on about 70 records to date. In one of their frequent bizarre choices, the All Music Guide to Jazz omits Ascione, while including Fred Astaire, but the Penguin Guide says “his CV has stretched from Cab Calloway to Donald Fagen, and he seems at home in any style from swing onwards." A player full of energy, joy, and imagination, Ascione is also a very bright and funny guy.

It's good that he's so resourceful, since he's now faced with the challenge of his life: in 2000, Ascione was ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Vignola/Joe Ascione: 33 1/3: The Frank & Joe Show

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Guitarist Frank Vignola and drummer/percussionist Joe Ascione recently marked their one-year anniversary of Sunday night gigs at New York's Sweet Rhythm with the release of this wonderfully quirky album that defies definition. How else can you describe a recording that features the theme from an old cartoon show, a rock era pop tune, Cole Porter and Rimsky-Korsakov all on the same disc?

Vignola and Ascione have long established themselves as younger musicians with both an appreciation for swing and ears for expanding on that tradition. People with agile memories will recall that they were two of the key parts in ...

INTERVIEWS

The Frank & Joe Show: Looking for a Long, Happy Run

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Back in the 1960s, after the British Invasion, it seemed every block had a band and anyone who knew three chords on a guitar joined in. Maybe they couldn’t really play guitar, and the drummer might have sounded like he should be washing pots and pans, not banging on them. But it was all among friends and it was fun. It was a feeling.Imagine if such a feeling were to be transposed to those who actually knew what to do with it?Imagine no longer. That’s the essence of the Frank & Joe Show, a new group ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frank Vignola and Joe Ascione: 33 1/3: The Frank & Joe Show

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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.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Ascione Octet: My Buddy

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Joe Ascione’s “buddy” is surnamed Rich, and this Nagel–Heyer release is Ascione’s enthusiastic and colorful salute to the drumming wizardry of one of his heroes and role models, Bernard “Buddy” Rich. Ascione, 35 years old when this recording was made (in November ’96), first encountered Rich via recordings in the early ’70s, an experience he recalls with wide–eyed amazement: “I could not believe what I was hearing! . . . I imagined myself listening to several drummers rolled up into one playing at 78 rpm’s!” Ascione soon became one of Buddy’s most ardent admirers, once even following Rich’s big band ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Ascione Octet: My Buddy

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When you’re hot, you’re hot. On November 2, 1996 this band took the stage in a Count Basie tribute, billed as the New York All Stars. The next day they entered the studio in a salute to Buddy Rich. The charts are looser, the feeling relaxed – the swing in full bloom. And Joe Ascione (he toured with Buddy’s band – he set up the drums!) is far from the Papa Jo riffs of the night before. With a mixed bag of surprising tunes, the band soars, glides, and makes a big noise. As Joe once thought of Buddy – ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Joe Ascione Trio: Post No Bills

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Joe Ascione plays the drums in the aggressive, take-no-prisoners mode of Buddy Rich, which is no surprise since he once worked as Rich’s roadie. In addition to his powerhouse chops, Ascione displays excellent instincts as a leader on his debut release on the Arbors label. While his drumming is busy and LOUD, he is a supportive player who does not step on his bandmates’ toes.

The album features trio, quartet, and quintet versions of mostly familiar modern jazz standards--some perhaps a bit too familiar, though the group does interesting things with them. Ascione’s superb trio includes Dave LaLama on piano ...



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