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Martin Taylor and Frank Vignola: Two guitar geniuses, one amazing studio session

The artist Frank Vignola plays an acoustic guitar inside a red room.
Parker Miles Blohm

The smiles were wide and contagious when Martin Taylor and Frank Vignola returned to the KNKX studios for a guitar duet performance. Regarded as two of the best acoustic guitarists in the world, our studio audience was thrilled to share their intense love of music and joy of playing that came shining through.

Both Taylor and Vignola found an early passion for the gypsy jazz swing of guitar legend Django Reinhardt. Taylor played as a young man with Reinhardt's longtime partner, violinist Stephane Grappelli. One of Vignola's first bands was his Hot Club, based on those classic swinging sounds of France in the 1930s. Together, they're a cheerful earful of exhuberant jazz.

I spoke to them about the magic of guitar collaborations, both of whom have spent a career in such settings. They talked about the natural, communal nature of the guitar, and about their common language in a shared love of the good old songs. "It's like when you fall in love," Taylor told us. This is a match made in heaven.

We also talked about Vignola's recent ATV accident which required more than a year to recover and regain his guitar chops. Not only does he feel lucky to be alive, but lucky to be able to keep playing. Vignola also found a silver lining during his year off, he really loves his family. "I'm getting wise about how I spent my second half of my life that was given back to me. These past two months have been as busy as I've ever been and it feels just great. But, I know in March I can go home and have one month off."

I asked both about their chosen acoustic instruments, considering Seattle's reputation as home of loud, rock and roll guitars. Neither of them have much interest in distortion pedals and heavy metal theatrics, but Taylor told us he was deeply inspired at age 12 seeing Jimi Hendrix perform in London. "It sounded like a jazz trio to me. There was all this interplay going on."

It was a session of the good old songs from Taylor and Vignola on this day in the KNKX studios. Standards like "Blue Moon" and "Out of Nowhere" were given fresh voice from these virtuosi guitarists. And as good as they are, hearing Martin & Frank play feels like listening to good friends simply having some fun.

Martin Taylor and Frank Vignola are incredible technicians on their instruments, but what's most charming about this duet is the passion for the music and the mutual admiration they shared with each other and our studio audience. It doesn't get much better than this!

Abe grew up in Western Washington, a third generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.