The Frank and Joe Show
Wednesday, June 21, 8 p.m.
Guitarist Frank Vignola and drummer Joe Ascione learned at the feet of classic jazz giants. Fresh out of high school, Ascione spent a year as a roadie for the legendary Buddy Rich.
“Setting up his drums, breaking them down,” he says. “To see greatness in the moment is really something. It stays with your mindset forever.”
Vignola also started his professional career as a teen and spent the past five years as sideman for Les Paul.
“He’s insane,” Vignola says of the nonagenarian guitar pioneer. “Still, every week, he pulls his guitar apart and rewires it. There’s more switches on that thing. It’s just amazing that he’s so fanatical about sound.”Now in their 40s, however, Vignola and Ascione have their own take on jazz that incorporates most of the major variations on the genre, from the ’20s gypsy sound through the bop era to the funk and fusion ventures of the ’70s. Submarine Bus, their new, third album as the Frank and Joe Show, also betrays the rock influences of their younger days — the fire of Jimi Hendrix, the verbal and compositional whimsy of Frank Zappa. It’s a mix that might appeal more to the jam-band crowd than to jazz audiences.
“Coming from many musical backgrounds and having many musical influences, it’s just pretty cool to mix those styles and not be boxed into a certain sound,” says Vignola, who with equal prominence cites Django Reinhardt and Eddie Van Halen among his inspirations. “The original material is very spontaneous. Some of the stuff is wacky. Some of the stuff is poignant.”
Just as they learned from their elders, the pair have a significant sideline in instructional materials for budding musicians. Along with numerous projects for the venerable Mel Bay music book company, they also market instructional materials and downloadable play-along recordings on a Web site, www.ilovetojam.com.