An extremely versatile jazz guitarist, Frank Vignola has demonstrated that he is capable of playing everything from fusion and commercial pop-jazz to hard bop, post-bop, and swing. The native New Yorker has a wide variety of influences; everyone from Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, and Pat Metheny to Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian has affected his playing in some way. For Vignola, different influences have asserted themselves at different times -- the Reinhardt or Christian influence might be especially prominent in a swing environment, whereas he has sometimes sounded more Metheny-ish in fusion or pop-jazz/NAC settings. And he might be mindful of Montgomery or Pass on a hard bop or post-bop project.
Born on suburban Long Island on December 30, 1965, Vignola was raised in the New York area. The Italian-American started playing the guitar at the age of five and grew up admiring a variety of guitarists. Far from a jazz snob, Vignola never listened to jazz exclusively and was also a major fan of rock, R&B, and pop. The guitarists whom he admired ranged from jazz musicians to rock icons like Eric Clapton and Eddie Van Halen. As a young adult, Vignola studied at the Cultural Arts Center of Long Island and went on to enjoy a lot of sideman gigs in the 1980s. The New Yorker was 27 when, in 1993, he signed with Concord Jazz and recorded his first Concord session as a leader, Appel Direct. Several more Concord releases followed, including 1993's Let it Happen, 1996's Look Right, Jog Left, and 1999's Déjà Vu.
Vignola then moved to Nagel Heyer for 2000's Off Broadway, after which he stayed busy delivering two well-received Django Reinhardt-influenced albums, 2001's Blues for a Gypsy and 2003's Gypsy Soul. In 2007 he paid tribute to composer George Gershwin with Vignola Plays Gershwin, and he once again honored Reinhardt with 2010's 100 Years of Django. Vignola then paired with guitarist Vinny Raniolo on two albums, the classical-leaning Melody Magic in 2013 and the more straight-ahead Swing Zing! in 2015. In 2017 Vignola collaborated with mandolinist David Grisman on the bluegrass and Gypsy jazz-tinged Frank 'N' Dawg. ~ Alex Henderson