We catch up with longtime CBMF artist and 2018 Hot Club Dream Camp instructor, Vinny Raniolo!
CBMF: Tell us about your musical roots.
Vinny Raniolo: I started on alto sax at age and then gravitated towards guitar once I saw how much fun my friends were having jamming on rock tunes. I became obsessed with the guitar and practiced constantly. At age 16 my high school teacher played a Joe Pass and Herb Ellis duo album for me and I knew that was the type of guitar I wanted to play.
CBMF: What are you listening to right now?
VR: I’ve been listening to a lot to Wes Montgomery lately. I love how his musical ideas seem to have no end.
CBMF: Who had the most significant impact on your musical taste as a child and teenager?
VR: I had so many great instructors and also growing up around New York really diversified my musical tastes so I can’t credit only one person. Almost every night I was going into the city to check out live music. I really took advantage of living near a jazz hub.
CBMF: Which musicians do you consider your greatest influences today?
VR: Buck Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola and Tommy Emmanuel. Their dedication to music and guitar is so inspiring. They are true guitar heroes.
CBMF: What drew you to gypsy jazz?
VR: I always knew of Django Reinhardt’s greatness and loved listening to the few records I checked out while growing up. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to play gypsy jazz at high level with Frank Vignola that I started digging deeper into the music. After getting involved I learned what a rich culture this music has and it’s beautiful history.
CBMF: What fact about you most surprises people?
VR: “Play That Funky Music” was the first song I learned and that I used to accompany pop singers for Radio Disney in my teen years.
CBMF: What was your earliest ambition? / Imagine yourself at 10, how would younger you react to your life today?
VR: After I finished playing all the video games I could then guitar became my obsession at age 13. The younger me would not be as outgoing and I would have terrible stage fright. Fortunately, I’ve grown out of that and not afraid to share my gifts.
CBMF: Where do you find inspiration?
VR: I find inspiration in other ambitious people sharing their work with others. Listening and watching others set a good example for future generations of musicians and people in general.
CBMF: Describe your rehearsal routine.
VR: Finger warmups then I play tunes that I want/need to learn for upcoming performances. I like having a focus for what I’m practicing or else I’ll eventually lose what I’ve learned because I don’t apply it.
CBMF: How do you prepare for a performance?
VR: I go through a set list of just intros and outros to see how the set flows and think of what I’m going to say in between. I also watch YouTube videos of Victor Borge to help me relax.
CBMF: If you had a time machine, what concert would be your first stop?
VR: I would love to have been at the Benny Goodman concert when John Hammond secretly sent Charlie Christian on stage without Benny knowing. This led to a 45-minute jam session and the beginning of Charlie Christian’s career with Benny.
CBMF: What song would you love to cover/rearrange?
VR: I would love to create a gypsy jazz version of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue”.
Catch Vinny on the mainstage at CBMF this summer, or join him and other gypsy jazz masters for a week of instruction and jamming at the 2018 Hot Club Dream Camp!
Check out this in-depth look at Latin and South American influence in the gypsy jazz world, featuring Vinny Raniolo:
Gypsy Jazz Goes South: Hot Club in Latin and South America
Wednesday, July 25, 2018 8:00 PM
Crested Butte Center for the Arts, Crested Butte, CO