Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hot Club USA

The fiercely swinging guitar-violin format which became hugely popular by Hot Club de France and its key members Django Reinhardt and St├ęphane Grappelli was the subject to many imitations and replica bands with various degrees of success. However, throughout the years some original voices arrived who were using the same framework but also were adding a lot of their own. That was the case with the homage band, Hot Club USA whose Django was guitarist extraordinaire Frank Vignola and whose Grappelli, the Uruguayan Federico Britos.

The Hot Club USA's first and best known recording [picture above] featured many classics of Reinhardt-Grappelli team, as well as some original compositions by Britos. "Vignola is a furious demon of strummed chords," wrote one reviewer of the album, while commenting on the combination of these two talents as "quite attractive."

I have a special video of Hot Club USA playing one of the songs from the debut album which, to me knowledge, has never been seen in the online world. But before any further procedure, allow me to introduce to leading musicians a little bit more:

Frank Vignola [source]

The guitar virtuoso Frank Vignola who is been called by Les Paul as his "Five Most Admired Guitar List" is born in 1965 into an Italian-American family. He started playing guitar at the age of 5 and absorbed many jazz, as well as pop and rock influences. (Among the latter group of musicians he has played with Donald Fagen, Madonna, Leon Redbone and Ringo Starr.)

Vignola who was raised and taken his musical lessons in New York signed with Concord Jazz in 1993 and that was only the beginning of a series of recordings as sideman, leader or soloist for various labels which continues to this day.

[image source]

Federico Britos is from Montevideo, Uruguay. He was born in 1939 and started playing violin since 1944. Soon he became a featured soloists in Latin American symphony orchestras and composed many pieces for orchestra, chamber ensemble, ballet and dance. His jazz side has taken him to the studio or on the road with Astor Piazzolla, Joao Gilberto, Arvell Shaw, Bucky Pizzarelli, Charlie Haden and Charlie Byrd. 

Mr. Britos has a special admiration for St├ęphane Grappelli. As a result he has composed about the French violinist, performed his music at Carnegie Hall and created, along with Vignola, an homage band based on the idea of Hot Club.

In this video from Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland, 1997, the Hot Club USA performs Dark Eyes:

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