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Frank Vignola: Vignola Plays Gershwin

Dan McClenaghan By

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"I like a Gershwin tune," Frank Sinatra sings on the Burton Reed/Ralph Freed classic, "How About You." Guitarist Frank Vignola apparently loves a Gershwin tune, passionately.

Vignola—with twelve CDs as a leader under his belt—is a versatile musician who sites an array of influences: Django Reinhardt, Joe Pass, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Christian. On Vignola Plays Gershwin he leans in a swinging gypsy direction, bringing a Django vibe to fourteen George Gershwin melodies.

The guitarist's quartet includes Joe Ascione on drums, bassist Tom Kennedy and guitarist Corey Christiansen, who supplies the crisp rhythms behind Vignola. The tunes are all the familiar classics: "I Got Rhythm," "Summertime," "S'Wonderful," "Our Love is Here to Stay," "Fascinating Rhythm, "How Long Has This Been Going On," and more. The band swings hard. It's a reverent, loving elevation of one of America's master songwriters. The group attacks "I Got Rhythm" with a joyous fever; they relax into a smooth flow on "Nice Work If You Can Get It," and put a zippy sting into "Fascinating Rhythm."

I'm struck by Vignola's technical virtuosity. It sounds as if he's incapable of hitting even a slightly wrong sound; and it's a warm, breathing virtuosity that feels spontaneous and fresh—a comfortable and supremely confident-in-his-artistic-skin player.

If America has ever turned out a finer melodist than George Gershwin, I haven't heard him. Frank Vignola and his band play the man's music with a beautiful zest.

Track Listing: I Got Rhythm; Summertime; S' Wonderful; Our Love Is Here To Stay; They Can't Take That Away From Me; 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.

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

Title: Vignola Plays Gershwin | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Mel Bay Records

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