THE FRANK AND JOE SHOW
There's no show quite like the Frank and Joe Show, not in the digital world, anyway. Frank is guitar virtuoso Frank Vignola, Joe is master percussionist Joe Ascione, and their "show" is a spirited, surprising and sometimes dazzling blend of Gypsy jazz, Southwest swing, dreamy pop balladry and off-the-wall novelties. Anything goes, and it all goes down smoothly. Aptly titled "331/3," the duo's debut CD pays homage to the age of LPs with great affection and ingenuity. Vocal cameos by Dr. John, Jane Monheit and Manhattan Transfer's Janis Siegel help conjure distinctive pop moods that range from the delightfully harmonious (Siegel's finger-snapping "Don't Fence Me In") to the unabashedly romantic (Monheit's "Besame Mucho.") Now and then violinist Charles Burnham and trumpeter Steven Bernstein appear as well, adding subtly evocative touches to the arrangements, while a rotating cast of bassists helps keep things pulsating.
Yet even when left to their own devices, Vignola and Ascione make time fly backward. Vignola, who possesses jaw-dropping technique, wears his influences on the tip of his pick. His playing brings to mind Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, Freddie Green, Les Paul and Bo Diddley by turns, and Ascione's multifaceted handiwork is always a big, dovetailing plus. If the breathlessly paced reprise of the "Spiderman" theme song isn't enough to win you over, chances are the turbocharged "Flight of the Bumblebee" or the dreamy "Stardust" should do the trick.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Friday at the Smithsonian Jazz Cafe. * To hear a free Sound Bite from the Frank and Joe Show, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8123. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)