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.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.