Frank Vignola was born December 30, 1965 in Long Island, New York where his father played accordion and banjo and his brother plays trumpet. When he was five, he picked up the guitar, learning from his father and from records by Django Reinhardt, Bucky Pizzarelli, Joe Pass, and Johnny Smith. At 12 he started on the banjo, and two years later he won a national championship in Canada.
He studied guitar at the Cultural Arts Center and early in his career, he went to used record stores to buy albums by musicians whose work he didn’t know, so that he could study their music. 1987, when he was 23, saw Frank forming the Hot Club quintet, named after the Quintette du Hot Club de France. In the early 1990s, a move to New York City he was playing in groups with Max Morath, Andy Stein, Herman Foster, Joe Ascione, and tuba player Sam Pilafian.
Vignola formed the Concord Jazz Collective with veteran guitarists Howard Alden and Jimmy Bruno and has worked with includes Leon Redbone, Ken Peplowski, Susannah McCorkle, Charlie Byrd, Joey DeFrancesco, Gene Bertoncini, Johnny Frigo, Bucky Pizzarelli, Wynton Marsalis, David Grisman, Jane Monheit, Mark O’Connor, and Donald Fagen.
He has recorded two dozen albums as a leader, recorded another 50+ as a sideman, has written over fifteen instructional books for Mel Bay, produced several instructional DVDs, and teaches courses over the internet. Sadly, in May 2017, guitarist Frank Vignola was in a serious ATV accident where he was thrown into a tree, sustaining numerous injuries. In November of 2017, friend and fellow guitarist Tommy Emmanuel posted an update on Vignola’s status, stating that he would be unable to play the guitar and may only recover after many surgeries and a long period of physical therapy.
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Oscar Frederic Moore was born in Austin, Texas on December 25, 1915 but grew up in Los Angeles, California. During the Thirties he often worked with his brother, Johnny, who was also a guitarist. Beginning in 1937, he spent ten years with Nat King Cole in the guitar-bass-drums trio format that influenced Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, and Ahmad Jamal.
After he left Cole, he joined his brother in Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers through the 1950s. He recorded two solo albums in 1954, then left the field of music. During the last decades of his life, he laid bricks and ran a gas station.
Barney Kessel stated that Oscar practically created the role of the jazz guitarist in small combos. He was voted top guitarist of 1945, 1946, and 1947 in the Down Beat magazine readers’ poll.
Guitarist Oscar Moore, who performed and recorded with Lionel Hampton, Art Tatum, The Capitol International Jazzmen, Anita O’Day, Lester Young, Benny Carter, Ray Charles, Illinois Jacquet and Sonny Criss, passed away on October 8, 1981 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Lawrence Lucie was born in Emporia, Virginia on December 18, 1907 and when he was eight years old began learning mandolin, violin, and banjo. He moved to New York City in 1927, attended the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music to study banjo and studied guitar at Paramount Music Studios, making the later his primary instrument.
Lucie started his professional career as a temporary substitute for Fred Guy in the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1931. He spent the next two years playing guitar for Benny Carter, followed by Fletcher Henderson, the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, Lucky Millinder, Coleman Hawkins in 1940, and Louis Armstrong until 1944, recording with all of them except Ellington. He would go on to record with Red Allen, Putney Dandridge, Billie Holiday, Spike Hughes, Jelly Roll Morton, Bobby Watson, Roy Eldridge, Sidney Bechet, Big Joe Turner, and Teddy Wilson.
After serving in the Army, he became a member of small groups in contrast to his big band years, and worked often as a studio musician. Throughout his career he was a rhythm guitarist, seldom taking solos until the 1970s, when he founded Toy Records to issue music performed by him and his wife, Nora Lee King. In the 1980s and 1990s he played in concerts with Panama Francis.
As an educator he taught for thirty years at the Borough of Manhattan Community College until 2004. He played solo guitar in clubs until he was 99-years-old. Guitarist Lawrence Lucie, who had a seventy-five year career in jazz and was the last musician to record with Jelly Roll Morton, passed away on August 14, 2009 at the age of 101.
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Pops Mohamed was born Ismail Mohamed-Jan on December 10, 1949 in Benoni, Gauteng, South Africa. His career in music was the logical outcome of an early exposure at Dorkay House to the likes of Abdullah Ibrahim and Kippie Moeketsi. He started his first band The Valiants at 14.
Known by fans as the Minister of Music, Pops plays a wide variety of instruments, African mouth bow, bird whistle, berimbau, didgeridoo, guitar, keyboard, kora, and the thumb piano. He is also known for his wide range of musical styles which include jazz, kwela, pop, and soul. He produced Finding One’s Self, the late Moses Taiwa Molelekwa’s award-winning album.
His recorded his debut album Kalamazoo in 1991 and has since recorded eleven more, his last to date being 205’s Mood Africa. He performs regularly with and sits on the board of the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra Company. Multi-instrumentalist, jazz musician and producer Pops Mohamed continues to pursue his career in music.
Egberto Amin Gismonti was born December 5, 1947 in Carmo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil into a musical family. His mother was from Sicily and his father was from Beirut, Lebanon. At the age of six, he started learning the piano at Conservatório Brasileiro de Música. After 15 years of studying the classical repertoire, he went to Paris to delve into modern music under Nadia Boulanger and composer Jean Barraqué encouraged him to write the collective Brazilian experience into his music.
An autodidact guitarist, Egberto returned to Brazil and designed guitars with more than six strings, expanding the possibilities of the instrument. Approaching the fretboard as if it were a keyboard, he gives the impression that there is more than a single guitar player.
His musical career spans five decades of composing, recording and performing with his Brazilian group Academia de Danças, that included Mauro Senise on saxophone and flutes, Zeca Assumpção on bass and Nenê Realcino Lima Filho on drums and percussion. He also performs in a duo setting with percussionist Naná Vasconcelos, and a trio configuration with the late bassist Charlie Haden and saxophonist Jan Garbarek. Dança das Cabecas, the first ECM record, was nominated by Stereo Review for Album of the Year and was awarded the 1977 Großer Deutscher Schallplattenpreis.
He has recorded more than three dozen albums as a leader, produced and arranged Vasconcelos Saudades album and guested on others. Composer, guitarist and pianist Egberto Gismonti continues to perform, compose and record.
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