354

Frank Vignola: 100 Years of Django

J Hunter By

Sign in to view read count
Frank Vignola: 100 Years of Django Of all the things guitarist Django Reinhardt accomplished in his 43 years on earth, two stand out: He proved you don't have to have a big band in order to swing, and you don't have to play soft and slow in order to be intimate. Reinhardt's Le Hot Club Quintet of France (formed with violinist Stephane Grappelli, who David Grisman has called "the master of String Swing") embodied those two proofs, fueled by Reinhardt's evocative playing and prolific writing. 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of his birth, and guitarist Frank Vignola's 100 Years of Django is a perfect present for all lovers of the great Gypsy guitarist.

In an age of 71-disc box sets, a homage containing only 10 songs seems a bit miserly, particularly when Reinhardt recorded nearly 100 songs during his career. But Vignola wasn't trying to complete a point-by-point tour of Reinhardt's songbook. Instead, he concentrates on the detail and intimacy inherent in all Reinhardt compositions and he does it without making an oft-repeated mistake—trying to "re- create" Le Hot Club, which is kind of like trying to reinvent a wheel made in France during World War II.

Forget the stereotypical image of musicians playing in some smoky basement grotto in Paris. The opener "Rhythm Futur" is two guys sitting around a kitchen table, seeing what they can do with one tune and the tools they have. What accordionist Julien Labro does is fly, launching a solo that simply bubbles with joy. He even throws in a sub-reference to "Hava Nagila," which appropriately translates to "Let us rejoice!" The piece pushes effortlessly forward, despite the lack of bass or drums: Vignola sets the pace with his forceful strumming, and then Labro maintains the foundation as Vignola takes a sweet, soft, soaring solo that simultaneously works on a macro and micro levels. A rhythm section (of a kind) does show up, as guitarist Vinny Rainolo and bassist Gary Mazzaroppi appear on the following cut. But "Troubland Bolero" is a trio, as Labro lays out and cedes the spotlight to Vignola, while Rainolo's rhythm guitar gives Vignola freedom to go all-out, here and elsewhere.

Vignola alternates between trio and quartet for the rest of the recording, varying the heat of the disc's slow-burning fire. "Swing Gitane" is as cool as a spring night in the Berkshires thanks to Labro getting his Parisian on, and the user- friendly take on "Diminishing Blackness" is light years removed from saxophonist James Carter's frantic reboot on Heaven on Earth (Half Note, 2009). Vignola gives "Tears" and "Nuages" the balladic treatment they deserve, taking both pieces to the edge of exquisite sadness. In contrast, "Douce Ambiance" is more make- out music than love song, and "Mystery Pacific" is literally an express train whistling through the night.

100 Years of Django is Frank Vignola's suitably small birthday present to one of the greatest guitarists ever. Size? It don't mean a thing... as long as it swings!

Track Listing: Rhythm Futur; Troubland Bolero; Swing Gitane; Tears; Song D'Automme; Diminishing Blackness; Mystery Pacific; Douce Ambiance; Nuages; Swing 49.

Personnel: Frank Vignola: guitar; Vinny Rainolo: guitar; Gary Mazzaroppi: double bass; Julien Labro: accordion.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Azica Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Reflections CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Back In Your Own Backyard CD/LP/Track Review Back In Your Own Backyard
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Greatest Licks - I Feel Like Singin' CD/LP/Track Review Greatest Licks - I Feel Like Singin'
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Through The Glass CD/LP/Track Review Through The Glass
by Nicola Negri
Published: March 25, 2017
Read Circles CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "City Of Poets" CD/LP/Track Review City Of Poets
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 3, 2016
Read "Pensamiento" CD/LP/Track Review Pensamiento
by James Nadal
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Manovuotometro" CD/LP/Track Review Manovuotometro
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "The Behemoth" CD/LP/Track Review The Behemoth
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 11, 2017
Read "Cornua Copiae" CD/LP/Track Review Cornua Copiae
by John Sharpe
Published: December 15, 2016
Read "New Jazz Standards, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review New Jazz Standards, Volume 2
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 8, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!