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33.3333333333333 by The Frank & Joe Show

The Frank and Joe Show are a consciously tongue-in-cheek "throwback" to an era where jazz musicians were entertainers (and not ashamed of it), before the phrase "Serious Artist" was tossed about freely and before the concept of a 20-minute unaccompanied solo was somewhat commonplace. Frank (guitar) and Joe (percussion) play with the same unfettered joie de vive as the "hot jazz" (Eddie Lang, Louis Armstrong) and Swing Era wizards (i.e, Django Reinhardt, Count Basie) of the 1920s & 30s, respectively. Frank Vignola has a formidable, dazzling guitar technique that no matter how he "dazzles" remains resolutely rhythmic. Joe Ascione, however, is a bit lost in the sauce, but he sure keeps time well, though. The program is all familiar -- TOO familiar, at that -- standards, with vocal guest shots from Dr. John, Jane Monheit (a sexy "Besame Mucho"), and Janis Siegel ("Don’t Fence Me In" sounds a tribute to Les Paul & Mary Ford -- too cute, but not too, too cute). For this jaded cynic, the highlight is a breakneck rendition of the "Theme From Spider-Man (the 60s cartoon, that is) -- here, it sounds like the guys are really going to town, where as on the rest they sound a tad too polite, as if they're afraid to disturb this set's nostalgic patina. 33 1/3 is indeed fun, but next time out I hope they a) dig a little deeper into the Great American Songbook and/or b) push the envelope a bit.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: The Frank & Joe Show
  • CD Title: 33.33333333
  • Genre: Big Band / Swing
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Hyena
  • Tracks: Stardust; Paper Moon; Tico Tico; Alone Again Naturally; Sheik of Araby; Begin the Beguine; seven others.
  • Musicians: Frank Vignola: guitar; Joe Ascione: percussion; Dr. John, Janis Siegel, Jane Monheit: vocals; Charles Burnham: violin; others.
  • Rating: Three Stars
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