With "100 Years of Django", the Frank Vignola Trio invites the listener to sway and jig to the music of the "one of the most influential guitarist of the last 100 years" - Frank Vignola. The name of the album is attributed to the centennial birth year of the musical genius of Django Reinhardt, the creator of Gypsy Jazz popularized in the '30's and '40's.
This album is a collection of ten compositions by Django, and the music is a chemistry of jazz sophistication with a strong gypsy persuasion in its rhythm. It is with great appreciation I reviewed the CD which revives the classic that deserves the musical virtuosity of the Frank Vignola Trio with: Frank Vignola on guitar, Vinny Raniolo also on guitar and Gary Mazzroppi playing the double bass. They are joined by guest artist Julien Labro on the accordion.
Frank Vignola picked up the guitar at age 5 and his influences include Django Reinhardt, George Barnes, Frank Zappa and Eddie Van Halen. This rainbow of musical influences attribute to Frank's proficiency in every genre of music. He has collaborated with other artists (Donald Fagen, Tommy Emmanuel and David Grisman), and he's also formed his own bands through his career path that has led to the making of this album that honors one of his icons, Django. (Django started playing guitar at age 12 without any formal musical instruction. In his late teens he was in a fire accident. His left fretting hand was burned and he only had his index and middle finger maintain mobility. He persisted practicing and developed a technique that allowed him to play a flurry of notes with his remaining two fingers.)
In order of the songs featured on the album:
1. Rhythm Futur - a whirling dervish dance with its hypnotic trance.
2. Troubland Bolero - Mark S. Tucker frames the songs as "caffeinated samba, light and agile but deft and inventive" - it's hard to add or take away from perfection.
3. Swing Gitane - a classic sounding gypsy jazz tune that a raver of the '30's would delightfully dance all night long to.
4. Tears - Frank Vignola admits this is his favorite Django composition. The introduction is a soulful lament that moves to a bittersweet velvety melody, and its delicacy is equaled by the delicate touch of the Trio.
5. Song d'Automne - translates to "Dream of Autumn". It starts as a light jazz tune that turns to a swing and melodic song. Frank's soloing gives this song the body of a Pinot Noir.
6. Diminishing Blackness - Speaking of noir, this is a sophisticated song with a playful whisper on the guitar. The rhythm guitar carries the soloist like Nureyev carries the light and graceful ballerina.
7. Mystic Pacific - Fun Fast and Furious
8. Douce Ambiance - From the fast and furious to a lighter classic with the melody interchanged between the accordion and the guitar
9. Nuages - "Clouds" is sentimental. Django is known to have recorded 13 versions of this song. He loved to improvised and he never repeated his solos. This song is a classic jazz standard with its gypsy swing. Again, Frank plays this with graceful command. The arrangement is balanced between all three instruments.
10. Swing 49 - The album ends with an upbeat song. The appeal of how Frank bleeds the notes is music to make a lover weep from the beauty of how lovingly he plays the guitar.-----ANALYN REVILLA