Material: The Vignatis are a unique duo, describing themselves as "Gypsybilly," a “Gypsy Jazz a la Django Reinhardt, Country, Rockabilly and Jazz” band. Gypsy jazz and rockabilly seem to be the two styles that are most evident in the material. At this show, the songs were tight melodically—an obvious strength in songwriting—but at times, it felt like too much at once. There was a deep need for clarity of parts, and variety in tone. An exercise in restraint may be what’s needed to take The Vignatis to the next level; playing with arrangements to find new ways of telling the story could make the difference. A song with an acoustic guitar, conga drums, or bowed bass would be a refreshing addition.
Musicianship: The Vignatis have created a sort of jazz jam band, with a rockabilly style that may once have been considered a lost art but continues to thrive. Fabrice is a talented guitarist with a mastery of his instrument; Tracy is a show woman with a gorgeous voice, and her clarinet stylings made for a refreshing experience. The rhythm section held down the fort expertly. Rakness especially was top-notch, giving every bit of his energy to his performance. The band itself showed terrific stage energy, but it would have been great to see a bit more interaction from our leads.
Performance: Unfortunately, there were some dramatic technical difficulties at the start of the set. Despite this, the band forged ahead and played what they could, showcasing a high level of professionalism. Once the band began, the energy in the room spiked with it. There was no lack of entertainment from this four-piece. Despite this, I found myself tired by the middle of their short set. Tracy did a good job of introducing some of the group’s songs, but more practice and clarity would make the show smoother.
Summary: Tracy and Fabrice have something unique on their hands: true, impeccable talent and the ability to carve a niche in a genre that may be entirely their own. The caveat is that the genre is rigid, locked in a certain feeling that demands familiarity at the same time as it demands ingenuity. That being said, their audience will not be sad if they slow the set down. All the parts are in place; the next step is to generate a seamless sound.
Players: Fabrice Vignati, vocals, guitar; Tracy Vignati, vocals, clarinet; Geoff Rakness, upright bass; Hal Rosenfeld, drums