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Frank Vignola: Vignola Plays Gershwin (2007)

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Frank Vignola: Vignola Plays Gershwin No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

With the Brothers Gershwin we're talking about the very summit of the Great American Songbook, words and music that have for the most part passed into the language. They are true evergreens that retain their capacity to swing, and provide fertile opportunities for a musician as varied in range as guitarist Frank Vignola. The only surprising thing about this album may be why Vignola didn't make it sooner. With a versatility on his part that ranges from swing to bop and stops in between and after, Vignola cuts loose and has a lot of fun with these gems that have been enriching American music for eight decades, and are staples of the traditional jazz repertoire.

His version of "S'wonderful, S'marvelous totally takes wing, with especially zippy background support from fellow guitarist Corey Christiansen. Throughout, Christiansen serves as a most syntonic shadow behind Vignola on rhythm guitar; other musicians on the set include bassist Tom Kennedy and drummer Joe Ascione. There's joie de vivre to spare throughout with tunes like "They Can't Take That Away From Me, on which Vignola's fluid fingering evokes the ebullient, tapping spirit of the immortal Fred Astaire (who introduced this and a great many of the other songs on this disc through shows including Lady, Be Good, Funny Face, Shall We Dance and A Damsel in Distress). One can easily envision these two masters enjoying each other's company.

One of the earliest Gershwin tunes of the set, "Somebody Loves Me, is infused with a totally unexpected mood through a deliciously Latin-flavored hip-swaying beat. For contrast there's "The Man I Love, a song too-often performed soaked in bathos. The emotionality of this song, and others like "Love Is Here to Stay, is expressed with the eloquence that only an instrumentalist who understands lyrics can, and using chops for miles that never sacrifice the music for mere showiness.

Track Listing: I Got Rhythm; Summertime; S'Wonderful; Our Love Is Here To Stay; They Can't Take That Away; The Man I Love; Somebody Loves Me; Strike Up The Band; Nice Work If You Can Get It; Fascinating Rhythm; Embraceable You; Lady Be Good; How Long Has This Been Going On; But Not For Me.

Personnel: Frank Vignola: guitar, Joe Ascione: drums, Tom Kennedy: bass, Corey Christiansen: guitar.

Record Label: Mel Bay Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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