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Frank Vignola’s Special Guitar Night in November

Ray Matuza

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They say that lightning never strikes the same place twice but if you happened to be at Birdland in NYC on the night of November 7th, you would tend to disagree with that old saying. 

Once again, Frank Vignola’s Guitar Night provided enough six string energy to light up the NYC skyline itself.  This, its sophomore edition, with again Gary Mazzaroppi on bass and Vince Cherico on drums, opened up with Frank and Jimmy Bruno harmonizing the melody on the Sam Jones tune “Unit 7”.  Jimmy blazed through the 1st choruses followed by bassist Mazzaroppi offering some nice upper register soloing. Vince hit the skins for the next few go-arounds followed by the guys trading fours. Next up an easy grooving “Our Love is Here to Stay” with the affable Mr. Vignola serving as master of ceremonies and as always offering a public service announcement of the harmonic landscape and, in this case stating, “In the people’s key of C”.  

Frank Vignola’s Special Guitar Night - Jimmy and Frank
Jimmy and Frank

“ALL of Me” introduced Vic Juris and 15 year old Henry Acker with the young Boston phenom displaying his Gypsy jazz soloing prowess. Vic came to bat next and in fine form, providing an interesting contrast in age and experience.  Good to see Vic back out playing again. Unfortunately, we lost Vic in late December. 

Frank Vignola’s Special Guitar Night with entire gang

Mr. Bruno stepped up next followed by Frank trading fours with Mazzaroppi to end the soloing.  The spotlight shined down on Acker for the next 2 tunes, “Segment” and “Minor Blues” with Frank looking on at Henry’s solo flights with approval and affectionately  calling him  “wise guy”!  Jimmy offered a beautiful chord melody opening to “Angel Eyes” with Vignola taking over the melody. Vic provided his soloing segment replete with harmonics and volume swells, giving it a “New York” coolness type of vibe. The tune came full circle with Mr. Bruno stating the tune again via chord melody style. Following a 4 guitar ensemble reading of “All The Things You Are”, guitarist Ken Smith joined the festivities with a Charlie Parker tune morphing into a swinging version of “C Jam Blues”. The evening capped off with the addition of guitarist Dennis Pol and myself running through a solo fest of “Stompin’ at The Savoy”.

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