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Doug Levine | Washington 29 March 2010
January 23 marked the 100th birthday of the influential jazz guitarist and composer Django Reinhardt. Today, more than 50 years after his death, musicians are still paying tribute to the man who elevated the guitar to a solo instrument. The latest tribute is by guitar virtuoso Frank Vignola.
Belgian-born gypsy Django Reinhardt is best-known as the co-founder of the world-famous Quintet of the Hot Club of France in the 1930s. It's been described as "one of the most original bands in the history of recorded jazz." Reinhardt's unique guitar playing certainly made a lasting impression on his many followers, including some of the top guitarists from rock, blues and jazz.
Frank Vignola, 44, began playing Reinhardt's music soon after learning to play guitar in his native Long, Island, New York. His first tribute to the Hot Club Of France in 1988 prompted the New York Times to call him one of the Top 10 acts of the year, and inspired others to record albums dedicated to the music of Reinhardt's all-string quintet.
While the title of Vignola's new album "100 Years Of Django" refers to Django Reinhardt's birth centennial, it also represents the nearly 100 songs written by the guitarist during his 20 years of recording. Among them, is "Swing 49."
Frank Vignola and his Hot Club band take their Django Reinhardt celebration on the road this month, with tribute concerts at the Berks Jazz Festival in Pennsylvania and The Blue Note nightclub in New York City. Later this year, Frank will appear at jazz festivals from Vermont to California, as well as concerts in Singapore and Europe.