Classical music has long exerted a subtle influence on jazz musicians, and on this extremely melodic CD, guitarists Frank Vignola (whom Les Paul singled out as one of his five favorite guitarists in a Wall Street Journal piece) and Vinny Raniolo have chosen to celebrate the style with several scaled-down versions of classical works. Beginning with Beethoven’s majestic Symphony No. 5—whose first four notes are the most famous in classical music—the pair (with violin, accordion and double bass on six tracks) go on to interpret seven other classical works. Included are a lovely reading of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and the sensuous “Habañera” aria from Bizet’s opera, Carmen, long a favorite of jazz musicians (it was used with great effect by Bird and Diz on their 1953 Jazz at Massey Hall concert CD, for example.) Popular tunes mesh well with the classical goods, and among the four here are a reflective Beatles medley—“If I Fell/Here, There and Everywhere”—using a Tommy Emmanuel arrangement; Sting’s “Walking on the Moon,” which gets a stylized reggae treatment; and a dizzyingly high-speed “Eye of the Tiger,” the theme song for Rocky III, on which violinist Zach Brock really comes into his own.
Vignola and Raniolo will be performing Tuesday, June 11, 7:30 p.m., at the Palms Playhouse, in Winters. Visit www.palmsplayhouse.com for info.