Guitarist pays tribute to Gypsy jazz legendWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Frank Vignola reminisced about the first time he heard guitar great Django Reinhardt.
“It was ‘Limehouse Blues,’ the classic jazz composition, and I remember I was 6 years old,” Vignola said. “When my dad got me the record, I couldn’t take it off the record player; I was just very intrigued by that sound.
“We usually play it every show even to this day; 37 years later, it’s still one of my favorite songs.”
The guitarist is paying tribute to the man who popularized Gypsy jazz with a new disc due out in January.
“[The disc] celebrates 100 years of Django Reinhardt,” Vignola said during a call from his New York City home. “He was a very prolific composer for his 20 years in the music business. He wrote close to 100 beautiful compositions, so I decided to honor him as a composer as well as a guitar player.”
The Frank Vignola Band will play an 8 p.m. show Nov. 19 at the Ark in Ann Arbor. Tickets are $20. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. The Hot Club of Detroit will open.
“We usually do a couple of the more rare Django tunes like ‘Rhytm Futur.’ Of course, we play ‘Nuages,’ ” Vignola said.
The guitar man covers anything from Mozart to The Police.
“What I like to perform are great melodies, and I think Mozart, Bach, some of the operas, Rimsky-Korsakov, Gershwin, and Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, even Black Sabbath has a couple nice melodies, believe it or not, so we try to pick different kinds of material,” Vignola said. “It’s important, especially playing instrumental music, to play some songs people know; to me, that’s half the battle of getting people to appreciate music, play something they know, that they can sing along with as opposed to just playing for yourself.”
Vignola learned from the best. He played for five years with guitar pioneer Les Paul in the Big Apple.
“Every week I would see [Paul] make hundreds of people so comfortable in the audience; it was almost like they were in his living room. That’s so important, especially in jazz, to relate to the audience,” Vignola said.