Genius? Definitely! Mass appeal? Certainly! The Frank and Joe Show releases their spring CD "66 2/3" as follow-up to their last year hit CD, "33 1/3," on Hyena Records. Signed originally as the Django-esque Hot Club USA, it was clear from the get-go that Frank Vignola and Joe Ascione had more to offer than just the tired, old worn out Django clone scene.
Frank and Joe not only have an incredible amount of musical talent, but they bring new life to what can't be categorized as simply folk jazz. They're a Retro/Latin/Gypsy/Nostalgic swinging speedball that will send you on a "Pow-Zoom" past a cardboard moon and paper stars. Before you know it, the tracks have run through and you have to press "play" again.
The only thing better would be seeing these guys play live, but until you can, get both CDs for your collection and watch for dates in your area. These guys toured over 100 dates in 2004, playing at topnotch venues, including The Ryman, The Egg, The Saville Theater and The Smithsonian Jazz Cafe. 2005 should prove to be even more exciting, and more expansive as they bring their music to world audiences. And even if you can't get to see Frank & Joe live this year, the liner notes on the CD are icing on the cake. Written by Victor Scheldrake, they read like a dime novel of the most delicious kind. It's great packaging, brilliant marketing and fine producing by Joel Dorn, "for the masked announcer."
Joining the two inventive masters on "66 2/3" are a host of other fine musicians and two outstanding divas, Jane Monheit on "Manhattan," and Janis Seigel on "Glow Worm." You'll want to dance barefoot in the living room with your sweetie to Monheit's track. The rest is just plain fun. You'll groove, you'll tango, and you’ll get sentimental. And best of all, you'll be witness to the remarkable evolution of two talented musicians who have found their niche.
Suzi Price is an international jazz journalist, freelance writer and senior interview editor of JazzReview.com.