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Tommy Vig is one of those jazz names which, when it pops to the surface, triggers you to say, "Hey, I’ve heard of him." Among many listeners, anyway. Among musicians, Mr. Vig is well known, his extensive discography betraying the fact. Among his credits are performances with Stan Kenton, Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, Red Rodney, Joe Pass, Don Ellis, Art Pepper, the Miles Davis/Gil Evans big band, and others. He is credited with contributions to the Manhattan Transfer’s The Anthology: Down in Birdland , Diana Ross’ Red Hot Rhythm and Blues, Freddie Hubbard’s Bundle of Joy , and Rod Stewart’s Night on the Town. That is a weighty reputation to precede a new record.
Mr. Vig’s new recording, Now and Then , is an obvious labor of love. It contains music recorded from early 1947 through 2003. A fine gossamer thread passes through the Austro-Hungarian musical tradition, binding all nine selections presented on this recording. The earliest recordings have Mr. Vig, a spry nine year old, playing drums in his home of Budapest. He accompanies is father, George Vig, who plays clarinet on "The Prisoner’s Song." While the sound quality is marginal, the vigor and joy with which these older songs are played is an inspiration. What a thrill it must have been for Mr. Vig to perform live with his father. Today, the elder Mr. Vig is 93 years old and live in Budapest.
Most provocative and satisfying on the collection are the two pieces Mr. Vig performs with his wife, Mia Kim Vig. Recorded in the mid ‘90s, the standards "Lover Come Back To Me" and "Besame Mucho" shimmer with Mr. Vig’s light, plush orchestration. The tunes are lengthy, allowing for solo explorations. Now and Then serves as an important document, like a family snapshot, that shows that this most American of art forms deftly absorbs cultural influences and traditions, transforming it into something new altogether.
Track Listing: 1. Love Come Back To Me; 2. Autumn Leaves; 3. Hungarian Potpourri; 4. Straight, No Chaser; 5. Besame Mucho; 6. Hallo Tommy; 7. Prisoner?s Song; 8. Dobparbaj; 9.Tell Vilmos.
Personnel: 1 & 5: Tommy Vig?Vibraphone, Arranger; Mia Vig?Vocals; Duna Symphonic Strings, Sandor Dobsa?Piano, Peter Wolf?Conductor, Studio 22, Budapest Hungary, May 7, 1995.
2 & 4: Tommy Vig?Vibraphone, Percussion; Bela Szakcis Lanktos?Piano; Aladar Pege?Bass; Imre Koszegi?Drums, Studio 6 Budapest Hungary, April 25, 1971.
3: Georg Schwartcz?Vibraphone; Barna Kechkemethy?Flute; Tommy Vig?Synthesizers; Luis Emery Oppenwaldt?Bass; Roger Lee?Drums, Los Angles California, 2003
6 & 7: Theo Ferstl?Trumpet; Fritz Meisinger?Trombone; Fred Krippner, George Vig?Clarinet; Hans Koller? Tenor Saxophone; Ernst Landl?Piano; Leo Eggenberger?Guitar; Joe Doleschal? Bass; Victor Plasil--, Tommy Vig?Drums, The Hot Club Of Vienna, Vienna Austria, August 1947.
8 & 9: Hungarian Big Band Of Mopex, Tommy Vig?Drums, Mesterhang Studio, Budapest Hungary, 1947.
Jazz is a creative explosion of individual freedom and communication.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was a kid. My father had a music store.
The best live performance I ever attended was Kenny Garrett in Harlem, New York.
The first jazz record I bought was Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins.
My advice to new listeners is keep listening!