Frank Vignola is considered to be among the top rank of guitarists on the jazz guitar music scene today! Born on December 30, 1965 on Long Island, New York, he began playing guitar at the age of five. As his proficiency grew, he spent many hours listening to the music of legendary jazz guitarists Django Reinhardt, Joe Pass, and Johnny Smith. Frank gained a spiritual sort of inspiration from these guitarists’ recordings while also making an intricate study of the complexities of these guitar masters’ styles – slowing down his vinyl records to analyze many a solo. Frank’s first teacher was his father, a semi-professional banjo player. Later, Frank became the star pupil of guitarist Jimmy George, who was one of the original Dion and the Belmonts. At age 12, Frank took up the tenor banjo and swiftly burst upon the music scene in a way that would portend many of the accolades and milestones to come in his career as a jazz guitarist.
Though obviously steeped in the traditional schools of jazz music, especially in the formative years, Frank would ultimately take inspiration from a wide arc of the musical spectrum. Guitarists such as Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery and Lonnie Johnson are obvious influences, but one might be surprised to learn that rocker Jimi Hendrix has also received the close scrutiny of Frank’s ear. Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Thad Jones and Duke Ellington have all had inspirational impact on his guitar music. Frank attended the Cultural Arts Centre on Long Island, New York and graduated from there with honors. While he was there he played in various progressive rock groups and at the age of 15 Frank won a competition sponsored by the McDonalds Corporation to appear in their State Jazz Band.
While still in his teens, Frank experienced the most effective music education possible – right on the bandstand as a working musician! Soon named among the top ranked musicians in New York, Frank performed and toured with such headliners as Max Morath and Leon Redbone. At age 23, he decided to lead his own group and formed his version of the famed Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Their debut at the New York cabaret, Michael’s Pub, was a smash success and launched his career as a guitarist “in the spotlight.” Tours of Europe, recording sessions, and an exclusive recording contract with the Concord Jazz record label would all follow in quick succession in a few short years. Frank would go on to perform and/or record with such varied artists as Chet Atkins, Madonna, Jon Faddis, Woody Allen, Ringo Starr, The Manhattan Transfer, Frank Wess, Elvin Jones, Lionel Hampton and countless other legends from the golden age of jazz.
More recently, Frank Vignola has been the guitarist with the Mark O’Conner Trio’s tribute to Stephane Grappelli and was also performing every Monday night with the Les Paul Trio at the Iridium in New York City until Les Paul passed away. Frank has also been performing with John Lewis’ group Evolution. Fortunately for aspiring guitarists, Frank has gone on to publish numerous instructional guitar tab book/CDs and DVD courses that teach his harmonic and melodic concepts as well as the guitar techniques that he uses when he plays.
Peabody Conservatory trained guitarist Steven Herron helps people succeed at becoming better guitar players. His company ChordMelody.com features an enormous, unique selection of jazz guitar tab as well as guitar books and instructional DVDs by Frank Vignola himself.