Vince Giordano began his odyssey into the world of music at the age of five. The discovery of a slew of 78-rpm-period records in his grandmother’s attic, ranging form grand opera to Joe “King” Oliver, ignited the flame. He soon learned tuba, string bass, and bass saxophone. By the age of 15, he was a working musician.
His love of the vintage music of the ’20s and ’30s led him to explore other facets of this music. He began to read books about jazz. He also began a self-initiated apprenticeship with the legendary William Challis—arranger for the Paul Whiteman Band and the Jean Goldkette Orchestra in the 20s—that lasted four years. This gave Vince the education he sought: a thorough grounding with first-hand experience in the sounds of the great Jazz Age era from Challis and the other older musicians he met and played with.
Vince continued to expand his musical abilities and was soon fully established as a free-lance musician in New York, playing in Broadway pit bands as well as recording sessions and traditional jazz bands. He began collecting original jazz charts, and he soon established Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks—a band dedicated to playing the golden era of jazz repertory.
Vince’s attention to the authenticity of transcribing arrangements from old recordings, his insistence on precision, and his love of re-creating the music transformed his Nighthawks into the most sought-after jazz band in New York City. Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks have been booked for black-tie galas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, the New York City Ballet, the Waldorf Astoria, and for private parties for many prominent New Yorkers, as well as the Rainbow Room, the Carlyle Hotel, “21,” and the Copacabana.
Vince has been invited to perform at the Smithsonian, Carnegie Hall, the JVC Jazz Festival, Lincoln Center, and the Breda Jazz Festival in Holland. Described by one critic as a “poet of the jazz repertory frozen by time… the authenticity of the music coupled with his first-hand knowledge of the original material provides him with insights, experiences, and an integrity that is unique to the musical world.”
Giordano also lent his talents to Bix: An Interpretation of a Legend (RCA), the original soundtrack from the 1990 film. He was typecast as a bass player in Sean Penn’s band in Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown, and he and the band are featured in Gus Van Sant’s latest film, Finding Forrester. Also a big-band historian and collector, Giordano has more than 30,000 scores in his collection, most of which were found on cross-country trips spent poking around in musicians’ basements.
Most recently, Vince Giordano and Wynton Marsalis performed 12 shows at Dizzy’s Club Cola-Cola in Jazz at Lincoln Center playing the music of Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five and Hot Seven, along with Jon-Erik Kellso, Andy Stein, Victor Goines, Chris Crenshaw, Ken Salvo, Dan Nimmer, Carlos Henriquez and Ali Jackson. Their New Year’s eve performance was both streamed and broadcast live on NPR and Sirius Radio.
Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks won a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media for their work on Boardwalk Empire Volume 1 – Music from the HBO Original Series CD. Vince and the band are heard and seen on HBO Boardwalk Empire as well as USA Network series Royal Pains.
In 2012 Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks debuted at the Newport Jazz Festival in August; the Mayo Center in Morristown, NJ in May; Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center in a battle of the bands with Toshiko Akioshi’s Band in March. And in January, they erupted like a “wellspring of euphoria” at the 92nd Street Y for the Lyrics & Lyricist “Makin’ Whoopee” with Christine Andreas, Jason Graae, Howard McGillin, Laura Osnes and Bolcom & Morris.
In 2011, Turner Classic Movie/Film Festival invited them to accompany a Buster Keaton silent film The Cameraman, with their original score at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. Also in 2011, Vince and the band were on the PBS series Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook where Vince revealed some treasures from the Great American Songbook. Then Secrets of New York that airs on NYC TV featured the band earning them an Emmy Award.
Photo © Steve Friedman 2010