Less than a year ago, jazz guitarist Frank Vignola and the Virtuoso Band left the stage at the Sheraton Hotel to a standing ovation. Gordon Hanks, the founder of the GAM Foundation and promoter of Jazz SLC series, extended Vignola an invitation to return for the 2011-12 series.
On Monday, Vignola will step onto the stage of the Capitol Theatre, the new venue for Jazz SLC, along with four of his favorite musicians for one of the highlights of the concert series. He brings with him a bag of new arrangements from his most recent tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Vignola is one of the "new bloods" in the world of jazz who, as a young man growing up, was influenced greatly by a wide variety of music. His tastes range from classical music and mainstream jazz to R&B, Gypsy and rock 'n' roll. He has performed with some of the industry's greatest artists, including Wynton Marsalis, Queen Latifah, Madonna and Ringo Star.
Former jazz guitarist, and perhaps one of Vignola's greatest admirers, Les Paul said that Vignola's music was in a league of its own. "It's not jazz as we know it here in America." This was high praise from Paul, who was one of the most inventive and exploratory guitarists in the history of jazz.
From his London tour, Vignola offers a hint of what the audience will hear at the concert. "The repertoire will span from Mozart and Beethoven to the Ventures and Simon and Garfunkel but we will also be playing a Django and Les Paul tribute to two of the most influential guitarists of the last 100 years," he said.
In concert as well as offstage, Vignola brims with energy and enthusiasm. The Virtuoso Band reflects a sense of congeniality and camaraderie.
"We're all big fans of each other so it really makes for an awesome band," Vignola said. "We're in it for the same reason and that's to make the best possible music while entertaining an audience."
Vignola was pleasantly surprised by his first visit to Jazz SLC.
"I heard about the series for my friend (pianist) Craig Larson," Vignola said. "I heard it was one of the best jazz series in America and Gordon is one of the nicest people I have ever met. And the crowd last year was amazing. They were so enthusiastic and supportive that I can hardly wait to perform."
To contact JazzSLC, call 801-278-0235 or visit the website at www.jazzslc.com.
If you go …
What: Frank Vignola and the Virtuoso Band
When: Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre
Tickets: Call 801.355-ARTS (2787) or www.arttix.org
Jeff Metcalf is a professor of English at the University of Utah and an avid jazz fan.