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Vince Giordano: Yesterday Man

Bandleader Vince Giordano brings a bygone era back to swinging life

Musicians, including Vince Giordano, in scene from Boardwalk Empire

Dancers are swaying and sashaying in elegant ballroom fashion as Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks beat out another hot-jazz gem. Debonair in his vintage tux, Giordano is stationed behind his low-end arsenal of tuba, bass saxophone and distinctive aluminum upright bass. He flashes an Elmer Gantry grin as he counts off the next tune, and his 11-piece ensemble launches into Bill Challis’ daunting arrangement of “‘Tain’t So, Honey, ‘Taint So,” a buoyantly swinging confection sung by a young Bing Crosby during his days with the Rhythm Boys in Paul Whiteman’s orchestra. Giordano leans over to sing the jaunty refrain into a vintage RCA microphone before tackling the ascending bassline on tuba. One couple executes an extravagant dip on the dance floor, and the bodies whirl as the band plays on.

This scene repeats every Monday and Tuesday evening at Club Cache, beneath Sofia’s restaurant in the basement of the Edison Hotel located in Manhattan’s Theatre District. It’s been Giordano’s haven for the past three years, a place to pursue his lifelong passion for this music from a bygone era. For three sets a night, the Nighthawks authentically recreate music by King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Fletcher Henderson, Raymond Scott, Benny Moten, Jean Goldkette, Duke Ellington and others, for both connoisseurs and newcomers-say, those who were exposed to Giordano’s work via A Prairie Home Companion or HBO’s Mildred Pierce and Boardwalk Empire. (He even appeared on the latter series.) The ever-resourceful bandleader, who brings a book of 3,000 tunes with him to every gig, carries along a portable copy machine in case he needs to run off an extra chart of “Snake Rag,” “Sugar Foot Stomp” or “Zulu Wail” between sets.

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