Guitar duo Frank Vignolo & Vinny Raniolo in town for Jazz at Vail Square
If you go ...
- What: Jazz at Vail Square with guitar duo Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo.
- Where: The all-weather jazz tent at Vail Square in Lionshead.
- When: 6-8 p.m., Thursday.
- Cost: Preferred seating is $25 and general admission is free on a first-come basis.
- More information: Visit http://www.vailjazz.orgtarget="_blank">http://www.vailjazz.org.
After several years of performing with Les Paul and sharing the stage with the likes of Ringo Starr, Wynton Marsalis and Madonna, Frank Vignolo knows that a true musical connection involves yes, a heap of talent, but also a certain measure of telepathy. Mind reading is one of the key ingredients of the energy pouring off the stage when Vignolo and Vinny Raniolo take to their guitars.
“We’ve come up with a such a great repertoire of songs — everything from Beethoven’s Fifth, Gerschwin, classic jazz tunes, Simon and Garfunkel … there is some improvisation, but mostly what we do are duo guitar arrangements,” Vignolo said. “We conduct a sing-a-long, dance around, swing our guitars .. all those years of playing with Les Paul taught me the value of entertaining an audience.”
Sheer entertainment is what’s on tap when Frank & Vinny make their inaugural appearance in Vail Thursday night for Jazz at Vail Square.
Yes, you may hear “Stardust,” or “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” but don’t be surprised if all of a sudden Vignolo and Raniolo kick into Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” all with what seems like inhuman precision and spot-on change-ups.
“You can really sense what each other is thinking,” Vignola said. “We have the routines down but they change a little in tone every night. There’s a definite telepathy that goes one, that’s how great bands are born and pass the test of time.”
‘Love to just break it down’
After his years of playing alongside the aforementioned gamut of celebrity musicians, Vignola set out to start a rock band and originally auditioned Raniolo for electric bass. After performing together for a year or so, it became apparent that the young music student had his own fair share of bionic skill on the guitar, and Frank & Vinny was born.
“I grew up playing guitar in the ‘90s and I studied a lot of jazz when I was learning,” Raniolo said. “A teacher of mine told me if I learned how to play bass I would get a lot more opportunities for work. But studying jazz guitar in school, that was really, really good experience for what I’m doing now — playing rhythm guitar in this duo — it’s the most challenging music I’ve ever played.”
While Raniolo primarily plays rhythm, both guitarists can twinkle up and down the neck of their acoustics as if their finger nails were smoking. And while they’ve both enjoyed performing with a drummer and support musicians, there is something alluring about two acoustic guitars, both for those on and off the stage.
“What I love about it is you can hear the full range of the guitar,” Vignolo said. “Also, we have such a broad repertoire that we couldn’t expect someone to learn 100 arrangements in a week. Our personalities come out more when it’s just the two of us. The audience reaction comes out. We played the Sydney Opera House and it was just as intimate as the 80 people we played to last night in Cape Cod. Vinny is such an unbelievable guitar player, performing in a duo allows him to do a lot more musically. The duo has taken on a life of its own. It’s a brand new Frank & Vinny.”
The Sydney Opera House performance last year is the standout for Raniolo as his most memorable gig to date.
“We’ve gotten to play some of the finest venues in the world. In Vicenza, Italy, we played the world’s oldest venue — The Teatro Olimpico,” Raniolo said, adding that in spite of some of the unique arrangements he and Vignola perform — “Flight of the Bumblebee” or their highly unique rendition of Beethoven’s 5th, the classics are what he embraces the most.
“I love the old ballads,” Raniolo said. “The ‘Wee Small Hours of the Morning,’ ‘I’ll be Seeing You,’ I just love those classic songs. I love to just break it down.”