After just one minute of watching guitar virtuoso Frank Vignola’s fingers dance up and down the fretboard, you’ll be convinced that he must be a man possessed.
But unlike the Devil ‘possession’ of the great violinist Paganini, Vignola is possessed by the spirit of Django Reinhardt, swing-jazz and the Great American Songbook.
Fronting a quartet at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, the unassuming Vignola opened the first of his two sets with the classic Hoagy Carmichael gem, “Stardust.” A diverse array of tunes from the Reinhardt canon, Rock & Roll Hall of Famers the Police and even movements from Bizet’s opera “Carmen” were all performed expertly and effortlessly.
And don’t think for a minute that Vignola’s performance was some stuffy academic or historical presentation. You’d be dead wrong. These guys – accordionist Julien Labro, bassist Gary Mazzaroppi and rhythm guitarist Vinny Raniolo – all had great fun up on the bandstand. Just like the audience did.
Vignola’s appearance at Caffe Lena was his second Nippertown performance of the year, having previously played with his quintet at The Egg in Albany in February. And judging by the sell-out crowd at Lena’s, it won’t be his last, either. In fact, Vignola is already scheduled to play the Eighth Step at Proctors in Schenectady on Friday, January 7, 2011.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk