Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Vignola, Frank, guitar; b. Islip, NY, 30 December 1965. He grew up in a musical environment. His father played banjo in a group with other banjo players and Frank started playing guitar when he was five. His father bought him records by Django Reinhardt, Joe Pass, and Bucky Pizzarelli. For the next seven years, he got Joe Pass records for Christmas. They were the only records he listened to until he was twelve, at which time he took up the banjo as well and mastered it so well that by the age of fourteen, he had won the Grand National Banjo Championship in Canada and had recorded a banjo album.
Frank's first teacher was his father. Later, Frank became the star pupil of guitarist Jimmy George, who was one of the original Dion and the Belmonts. As a teenager, he had heard and played rock and roll, but he continued his exploration of jazz. He also studied during this period at the Cultural Art Center of Long Island, which broadened his outlook. 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. They debuted at the New York cabaret, Michael's Pub.
Tours of Europe, recording sessions, and an exclusive recording contract with the Concord Jazz label would all follow in short succession in a few short years. Frank would perform and/or record with such varied artists as Chet Atkins, Madonna, Jon Faddis, Woody Allen, Ringo Starr, Manhattan Transfer, Frank Wess, Elvin Jones, Lionel Hampton and others. Frank Vignola is the guitarist with the Mark O'Connor Trio's tribute to Stephane Grappelli and also performs every Monday night with the Les Paul Trio at the Iridium in New York City. Frank was also the guitarist in the late John Lewis's group Evolution. Over the years he played on the Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson), on PBS with ragtime pianist Max Morath, in the Blue Note and Michael's Pub, at jazz festivals in the United States and Europe, and on recordings and gigs with Leon Redbone, Milt Hinton, Billy Mitchell, and Ringo Starr.
He has been a guest lecturer and teacher at Boston University, the University of Pittsburgh, and others. He heads the Jazz Guitar department at Arizona State University.
He co-leads a group with Sam Pilafian, Travelin' Light. He joined forces with Howard Alden and Jimmy Bruno to form the Concord Jazz Guitar Collective.
Appel Direct (1993); Let It Happen (1994); Travelin' Light: Cookin' With Frank and Sam; With Howard Alden and Jimmy Bruno: Concord Jazz Guitar Collective;
Frank Vignola, Bucky Pizzarelli and Howard Alden: Three of a Kind
Cafe Benedetto (DVD and video); Frank Vignola's Gypsy Jazz Jam (DVD)
Books by Vignola: 120 2-Bar ii-V Riffs, 240 2-Bar Jazz Guitar Riffs, Comping the Blues, Complete Arpeggio Study Method, Jammin' the Blues Volume 1-3,
Jazz Solos Volume 1: Improvised Solos over Standard Progressions, Jazz Solos Volume 2: Improvised Solos over Standard Progressions
Play-Along Jazz Standard Chord Progressions, Rhythm Changes Volume 1-3.