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STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo

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Today, let's sample a half-dozen video clips featuring the guitar duo of Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo, who will be in St. Louis next week to perform Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19 at Jazz at the Bistro. Vignola also will be presenting a guitar workshop on Saturday afternoon at City Music and Education Center.

Both have played here before, most recently with Vignola's quintet in 2009 at the Bistro. Vignola also recorded a live DVD at the Bistro in 2008, and has yet another St. Louis connection, in that he's written 15 instructional books on various aspects of guitar playing for our town's Mel Bay Publications.

The basic idea of the sort of guitar duo that Vignola and Raniolo are doing has been around in jazz since the 1930s, but they've developed their own take on the format, adding their own harmonic, melodic and arranging touches, and also incorporating interpretations of material from outside - sometimes well outside - the traditional repertoire.

You can start to get the idea while watching the first clip up above, taken from a performance at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) trade show earlier this year. It's a medley that starts and ends traditionally enough, with “Tico Tico" and “Gypsy Mania," but somewhere in the middle there, the guitarists interpolate both the theme from the film The Godfather and Led Zeppelin's “Stairway to Heaven."

There's another combination of traditional and contemporary in the first video down below, as Vignola and Raniolo pair the standard “Stardust" with “Killing Me Softly," made famous by Roberta Flack. This clip was recorded in February 2011 at the Midwest Mid-Winter Gypsy Swing Festival in Madison WI, as was the following clip, which includes a version of the Ventures' “Walk Don't Run," the 1950s hit “Perfidia" and more.

More evidence of the pair's eclectic nature can be found in the fourth clip, taken from a live performance on radio station WMWV in New Hampshire, and titled “A Little Zappa, A Little Mozart." We close out with two more clips showing Vignola and Raniolo applying their chops to rock songs, specifically Kansas' “Dust In The Wind" and the Police's “Walking On The Moon."

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
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