October 2007: My blood tests reveal I AM CAMCER FREE!
August 2007: Many of you have asked why there hasn’t been any activity posted on my website on the ‘Gigs Page’ since the end of March. In November of 2006, I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. On January 23, 2007 I had my prostate removed. By the end of February I felt well enough to work again. I had a great time working with Katie Bull, Cameron Brown and Lou Grassi at the 55 Bar. Then in March my Trio played The Stone and then The Goat, this time featuring saxophone great, Sabir Mateen. I thought I was on a roll and cancer free, but in April, blood tests revealed that surgery did not get all the cancer. Most of my time for that month was spent going back and forth to doctors, and by June, I began radiation (5 days per week) along with hormone therapy. Each had its own set of side effects. To say the least it was the worst seven weeks of my life. The radiation ended the second week in August, but the hormone therapy continues till the end of the year. All of this has left me too weak to practice, and I actually had to turn down gigs! (a musician's nightmare). Fortunately, I picked up two composing gigs, which allowed me to work but kept me still & seated - using mostly mental energy. By mid-September, I will be back in shape and I’m looking forward to the release of my new CD, The Jon Hemmersam/Dom Minasi Quartet featuring guitarist Jon Hemmersam, Ken Filiano and Kresten Osgood. Then in October, the opening of Almost Normal, a new play by Sally-Jane Heit, directed by Gretchen Cryer with music & sound by yours truly, and at the end of the month, The Jazz Improv Convention, where I will do a workshop: The Art of Taking It Out .hope to see some of you there! So the future looks bright and I intend to be around long time.
And thanks to all of you who sent good wishes and concerns I appreciate it more than words can express.
Hello Everyone! It’s been a long time since you’ve heard from me - I haven’t sent anything out except for radio interviews & gig notices . You may be asking ‘why?’..... I know how all of you look forward to my 4000 word commentary's ( ha!). The truth is, since The Vampire’s Revenge came out last March, I haven't had time to write a news letter. You might think ‘so you’re not busy anymore’? Yes, I am. Actually, I’m immersed in many projects which I will be happy to describe in the next paragraph (this is to piqué your interest so you won’t delete now !).
Since March of this year, besides promoting The Vampire’s Revenge (or as I now refer to it as “VR”) on gigs, radio, magazine & online interviews), I’ve been involved in finishing Carol’s new CD (release TBD next year). I produced, arranged, played on and wrote 5 of the songs for this record. This has been an enormous project. The cast of musicians reads like a ‘who’s who’ in the music business: Reeds: Patience Higgins & Grant Langford, Trumpet: Valery Ponomarev, Organ: Dr. Lonnie Smith, Trombone: Steve Swell , Piano: Michael Jefry Stevens, Bass: Mike Richmond, Drums: Jay Rosen, Percussion: Memo Acevedo , Violin: Gregor Hubner, Viola: Ron Lawrence, Cello: Tomas Ulrich and Devin Ratray on Harmonica. While this was going on, I recorded an album with Blaise Siwula, Rick Sage & Suto Nobuyoshi and another one with Danish guitarist, Jon Hemmersam & his drummer -Kresten Osgood (both from Denmark ) with Ken Filiano on Bass. I finished writing a 21st Century Solo Cello piece, with four movements, for cellist, Tomas Ulrich. I have also been re-writing the arrangements for The Vampire’s Revenge to adapt them to smaller musical situations such as my trio (Ken & Jackson plus 1 or 2). One gig was the trio with Tomas Ulrich. Another was the trio featuring altoist, Blaise Siwula and yet another was the trio with Steve Swell -Trombone. There was the string quartet gig at the Downtown Music Gallery with Jason Kao Hwang -Violin, Tomas Ulrich-Cello & Ken Filiano -Bass and me on guitar and no drums. This takes a lot of thought and time. With all this going on, I had to prepare and think about The Montreal Jazz Festival concert on July 8th. As soon as we came back from Montreal, I immediately began rehearsing with piano genius, Borah Bergman for a new record while writing the music for a new play, Vile Affections, by Vanda and directed by long-time associate Franka Fiala, for the 10th Annual Fringe Festival here in NYC.
Tuesday, March 21st : The John Schaffer's Sound check Show WNYC Radio. Live performance and interview with John Schaffer.
Thursday, March 23rd: Jimmy’s Restaurant Avant Series - The Dom Minasi Trio with Ken Filiano (bass), Jackson Krall (drums), and special guest artist, trombonist Steve Swell, at Jimmy's .
Wednesday, April 12th: Enzo's Jazz at The Jolly Hotel Madison Towers in the Whaler Bar, NYC - The Carol Mennie Quartet with Vocalist Carol Mennie, Dom Minasi - Guitar, Tomas Ulrich - Cello, Ken Filiano - Bass, and Drummer Jay Rosen.
Sunday, May 21st : Alternative Books Store New Vanguard Series Kingston NY - Dom Minasi, David Arner-Piano, Tomas Ulrich-Cello.
Sunday, June 11th: The Downtown Music Gallery- Dom Minasi, Jason Kao Wang - Violin, Tomas Ulrich - Cello, & Ken Filiano - Bass.
Saturday, July 8th : The Montreal Jazz Festival- Series: Jazz Contemporain. - The Dom Minasi Trio with Ken Filiano-bass/electronics, and Jackson Krall-drums. This was an extraordinary experience! We arrived in Montreal on the 7th. It was very hot & humid. All I wanted to do was eat, (we drove 6 hrs. with no breakfast/lunch or dinner stops) and get some sleep. Carol & I were directed to a wonderful little restaurant “around the corner” about 15 blocks away, mostly uphill ( that was fun!). But we had a great dinner and went back to the hotel to rest. I woke up about 3 a.m. And couldn’t get back to sleep. ..so I unpacked my guitar and started to practice around 5 a.m. ...very quietly of course!
Later that morning Lyle Robinson, the creator of The Jazz Guitar Life. Com came over. If you haven’t seen this site and you love guitar, this is an incredible website to check out! Lyle is doing a remarkable job of introducing the public to some well-known players and some that haven’t gotten the kind of recognition they deserve. Check it out. Jazzguitarlife.com We walked around the pavilion and stopped at the Hilton to check out the guitar exhibition. Carol joined us for lunch. We had a terrific time with some very interesting conversation. Later that afternoon they sent a van to our hotel to pick up the trio for our sound check at the Museum. What a great space to play! (soon you’ll see photo’s in the Gallery). After the sound check, back to the hotel to shower & change and wait to be picked up again. Ken & Jackson opted to walk...but I couldn’t take the heat, especially before playing. On our way back to the Museum we ran into Mark Whitfield. He had just finished playing with Chris Botti. As we entered the thankfully cool & beautiful Museum Concert Space we were greeted with great news t he kind musicians hope for but seldom hear enough...Our show had sold out! We were introduced in French then English, and I decided for this concert, I would do mostly standards instead of all original music. My thinking was that this audience may not be familiar with the way I play, so instead of playing music they might be unfamiliar with, I could still do my thing, but with standard tunes most would recognize. I did do a few originals and featured Ken on The Day After Next from Goin Out Again. From the stage, looking into the audience, you could hardly see a thing because of the lights, but it was nice to know we did have some friends out there. Jim Eigo, my press & label manager was there, along with Ron Sturm from the Iridium, NYC. Ken’s wife, Andrea Wolpher, my wife, Carol Mennie, Lyle Robinson, Marc Chenard , Heidi Fleming , and Chris Sampson from WHUS Radio.
I had planned and rehearsed 10 arrangements for the concert. I knew this would be enough material to cover the contracted 90-minutes we were to play. We started off with a new arrangement of Wayne Shorter’s Foot Prints. Before you know it, an hour and a half had gone by in the blink of an eye and we had only played half of the song list! The audience was stunned, as were the musicians, when during the vamp of The Day After Next, I was thanking Jackson & Ken and thanking the audience for being there. Jackson said he felt as if he could have played another another 3 hours. Both Ken and I felt the same way. ( look for new pictures and a free download next month from that gig of The First Day) After the concert, a group of us went out for a late supper and well-deserved drinks. The next morning I had a breakfast meeting/interview with Marc Chenard for Coda Magazine, then back home! Au revoir Montreal!
For those of you who have never been to the Montreal Jazz Festival, treat yourself.
Friday, August 11th: The Van Dyck, Schenectady, NY.
Monday, August 21st: The 55 Bar, NYC with Siwula, Minasi, Stowe & Sage Quartet.
Tales of CBGB’S
The True Story Behind The Vampire’s Revenge
Once upon a time in New York City, there lived a beautiful Vampire. She was 5’7’’ with long flowing blond hair and beautiful deep blue eyes. One would say she was absolutely stunning. She looked young, although she was reputed to be over 500 years old. Lorna was able to hide her fangs, except when she smiled. She also loved music. Every night you could find her at some club either dancing or listening to music. Our story begins on a Sunday night in October. In fact it was the Sunday before Halloween that Lorna made her way downtown to the famous CBGB’S, where she could hear some of the best up and coming rock and roll bands in the country. It was also the number one place to find young new blood to quench her hunger. When she arrived the band hadn’t begun to set up yet, and it looked like it would be a while before they would play. The crowd was just beginning to make its way into the small club. She decided to go next door to the Galleria. Sometimes there were some interesting groups playing, but on this night, again, the band was just starting to set up. She was about to leave when she heard some strange sounds coming from the downstairs lounge. She asked the young man standing at the top of the stairs, "What is that?" He said it was the Sunday night Downstairs Avant Jazz Series. Lorna decided to take a look.
When she reached the bottom of the stairs, another young man sitting behind a table, asked her: “Who are you here to hear?” She said: “Anyone.” He said: “That will be $10 please.” Lorna gazed into his eyes with her hypnotic stare and he said: “Go right in.” Lorna went straight to the bar. She sat down and listened to this strange but intriguing music. She thought to herself: “What have I been missing?” Just then a good-looking young musician (he carried a case over his shoulder…it looked like some kind of horn) said to her: “You must be new here. I’ve never seen you here before.” Lorna smiled and said: “Yes I am.” He looked at her beautiful face with that seductive smile and Stephen was immediately smitten and very much taken with Lorna, as Lorna was with Stephen. He asked if she could wait till he finished his set and maybe they could hang out together. Lorna anxious for some new blood said: “Of course.”
Later on that evening, at Stephen’s apartment, Lorna began her Seduction. Slowly she enticed him with short sweet kisses along his face and neck. Stephen felt her rapture and was sexually charged as she Lorna laid in his arms. He wanted to ask her Who’s Your Dentist?, but he didn’t want to break the mood. Stephen noticed she spent a lot of time on his neck. Then all of a sudden she dug in with her fangs and started to suck the blood right out of him. Shocked at first, he shouted: “No! No!” But then he began to enjoy it. Stephen moaned as he went into a dream like stupor and when she stopped sucking, he cried "No! No! Don’t stop! Just One More Bite."
Lorna decided she would not kill Stephen, but make him a Vampire. That night Stephen went through a Transformation. When he awoke 24 hours later, Lorna explained what she had done to him. He had been brought over to the Dark Side.
Stephen was very upset. All he wanted was to have a great time with this sexy lady and now he was a Vampire, part of the walking Un-dead! Lorna explained how great it is to be a Vampire. Now, he could live forever, "but be careful, you must never walk in the daylight. The sun could kill you!" The only thing that really bothered Stephen was that he could never play a daytime gig again. On the positive side, most of his gigs were at night and he preferred the night to day anyway. With daylight savings time in the winter, it would get dark at 4:30, which isn’t so bad. He would have to plan his practice time and feeding and social life around his vampire hours. One thing was for sure, he would have to give up Sunday afternoon brunches with his Mother and adjust his embouchure (the placement of the mouthpiece). Because of his newly formed fangs he would have to learn play without them being too obtrusive. Oh yes! Because of his paleness he might have make some adjustments with tanning block or makeup and definitely wear sunglasses, which would make him look cool!
The very next night Lorna took Stephen out for a stroll. This was his The First Day (night) as a Vampire. Lorna wanted to teach him how to live and survive in his new reality. His first kill wasn’t as hard as he thought. In fact, it was fun. With his newly found strength and his keen sense of smell and sight, overpowering his victims was easy. Stephen thought to himself, who could be luckier and I. I can live forever, and play the music I love forever too. Then he thought to himself, the audience for free-form-avant jazz is getting smaller and smaller, with this new power of mine, what can I do to help change this? Suddenly a light bulb went off in his head, and Stephen knew exactly what he had to do.
“Yes! This makes absolute sense! If I infect hundreds, no, thousands, no, hundreds of thousands of people, and because I am free form- avant jazz musician, these hundreds of thousands of people will love this music and we will finally have the audience we deserve and it could go on through eternity and I’ll never be out of work!” It was at that very moment that the Blood Lust took over.
For the next year, Stephen did not stop. Sometimes he would bite up to thirty people a night. At this rate, in the next ten years, he could infect over 100,000 humans. For some unknown reason, the audiences at his performances were not getting larger, in fact sometimes only a few people showed up. His plan was not working! What could be going wrong? He thought his idea was just what free-form avant jazz needed, a Blood Sucking Vampire, but it was too late. Because he spent so much time hunting at night, his lust for blood was increasing and he couldn’t stop himself.
The summer of 2005 will be a summer that goes down in infamy. It was reported on Fox News (and we know, they don’t lie); July 9th, that without a doubt there is a Vampire loose in New York City. Someone had seen Stephen devouring a helpless woman in a back alley off of Canal St. and they videoed taped it. The tape ran on every major news station throughout the world. The woman appeared on CNN, 60 Minutes and Oprah. Each time with tears in her eyes, she told what she saw and she described the desperation in the victim’s eyes. She called 911, but it was over in less than a minute and by the time the medics arrived, the woman was dead and the vampire had disappeared in a flash.
A frenzy had taken over New York City. Everyone was searching for the Vampire. Major Bloomberg begged people to stay home and let the police do their job, but the Hunt was on! Days went by and then a month, but without any results. People were scared and frustrated. Stephen had become sloppy. More and more victims were piling up, and yet, no one had seen this Vampire. The Mayor called for calm and made another special announcement. He had sent for the great ‘Vampire Hunter’. Derek was world renowned. He made his reputation as a Vampire Hunter by killing over three hundred vampires.
The day the Hunter arrived at JFK from Transylvania, there were thousands of people lined up along the Van Wyck Expressway. Two million showed up for the ticker-tape parade along Broadway. When the entourage of Limo’s pulled up to City Hall, the crowd cheered as the Derek stepped out onto the Red Carpet that led up the stairs where the Mayor welcomed him. In a brief ceremony, Mayor Bloomberg gave Derek the keys to the city. When the Hunter stepped up to the podium he growled and screamed “Vampire! Vampire! Where You Gonna’ Go? Where You Gonna’ Hide?" With that, the crowd went wild. They stormed the steps of City Hall and carried him over their shoulders while shouting, “Where You Gonna’ Go? Where You Gonna’ Hide?”
Three days later the police found Derek’s body ripped to shreds. It was said that a newly engaged couple, while walking down 5th ave and 33rd St., could hear shriveling and screeching yells. It was as though an animal was ripping a human being to shreds. As they walked by, the couple looked at each other and said: “Wow, that sounds strange,” and as typical New Yorkers they continued on their merry way.
A few nights later on the Letterman show, Dave got a call while on the air. At first he wouldn’t take it. In fact he yelled at his staff for trying to put through this called while he was doing his opening monologue, but the producer ran on stage, an apparently whispered in his ear; “It’s the Vampire!” Shocked! Dave took the call, ‘live on the air.’ Of Course, NBC were pissed that the Vampire would call Letterman and not Jay Leno. NBC had no way of knowing that the Vampire was a fan of the Letterman Show long before he was a Vampire. In fact, he was still pissed that The Tonight Show moved to L.A. As Letterman put the phone to his ear, he could hear the Vampire shouting “I will have my revenge.”
And thus dear readers we have The Vampire’s Revenge!
Hello everyone. As always, “it has been a while”. The summer is over. The heat and humidity have been washed away by days of rain. I think I can safely say that autumn is finally here!
Lot’s of things have happened since my last News Letter. I’ve been recording the music to my next release, The Vampire’s Revenge. This has been and still is an enormous undertaking. It will be a double disc recording with approximately 110 -120 minutes of music. Each piece was specifically written with certain players in mind. When I planned this record, I knew whom I wanted and what I wanted from each musician. They all had to be able to read, be great improvisers, some had to be able to work with a conductor and above all and most importantly, they had to be able to listen to each other and play accordingly. This was not going to be a free-for-all jam! The entire recording was completed a few weeks ago. Along with recording engineer, Jon Rosenberg, the next phase and possibly the hardest part begins…mixing. We have already mixed some of the pieces, but after numerous listenings, we need to remix some again. This is a long and tiresome process.
The new record will have guest artists playing ‘through-composed’ original music along side my trio (Ken Filiano-bass and Jackson Krall-drums.) There are quartets, sextets, up to 13 musicians including a conductor. Both Laurence-Donahue Green (AAJ) and Charles Walker (Sudden Thoughts. Com) asked if “I made a wish list?” The answer is “Yes!”
The line-up of musicians (my wish list) for this record reads like the “Who’s Who” of the ‘downtown scene’; what I call ‘The Best Of The Best’: Reeds: Joe McPhee, Joe Giardullo, Sabir Mateen, John Gunter, Ras Moshe, Perry Robinson, Blaise Siwula & Mark Whitecage. Trumpets: Paul Smoker & Herb Robertson, Trombone: Steve Swell, Bass 2: Francois Grillot, Strings: Jason Hwang, Tomas Ulrich. Piano: Matthew Shipp, BorahBergman, with two vocals by Carol Mennie, a recitation by actor Peter Ratray and Byron Olsen conducting the larger ensembles. This is not the order of the pieces or what tracks they are on. Once this project is completed, I will talk about it in greater detail.
Saturday May 21: The Colony Café Woodstock, NY: The Woodstock Quantum Ensemble with Johnny Asia, Joe Finn & Dom Minasi with guest vocalist Carol Mennie: This was the third time we all played together. As always it was lots of fun. Johnny opened the set with his amazing acoustic guitar playing then Carol & I went up as a duo. We performed some of the tunes from her CD (I’m Not A Sometime Thing-CDM 1004), but we also did do a funny version of I’m Old Fashioned. When Carol announces the tune she reminds the audience that she’s the tonal person and I’m the atonal one in this partnership. Carol begins to sing the melody very slowly, in tune and out of time while I play atonal-dissonant lines as fast as I can behind her (it’s amazing what she can do while I purposely play out of tune). She pauses every so often and looks at me with those big blue/gray eyes that say, “are you serious?” Of course the audience laughs while I keep my head down and play. When she sings the song once through, we go into a moderate swing tempo and play it straight (except for my solo) for the rest of the song. Everyone who came up to us afterwards said this was their favorite tune of our segment.
Joe Finn came up next and played a beautiful rendition of Here’s That Rainy Day. The three guitars then played an open jam. We had a great audience and they were very enthusiastic about the music. Photographer, Will Gamble, was there with his wife, Mae, and took lots of pictures and I hope to have them up on my website soon.
July 9:AIR Studio Gallery - Johnny Asia, Joe Finn & Dom Minasi again lots of fun and very musical. This venue is like a ‘home away from home’ for Johnny….and everyone who comes in the door feels this very welcoming vibe!
July 17:CBGB'S Downstairs Lounge - Chris Kelsey Quartet with Dom Minasi, Matt Lavelle (trumpet), Francois Grillot (bass), and Jay Rosen (drums)
This is Chris’s new group. Matt Lavelle and I are the new guys in this group. Jay Rosen and Francois have been with Chris for a while. Drummer/friend Jay Rosen and I have been playing together for over ten years. Jay is one the best drummers out there. He is also part of the infamous group, Trio X with Joe McPhee and Dominic Duvall. Jay played an important part in bringing me back to recording again. He is the drummer on my first record as a leader in over 20 years, Finishing Touches (CIMP 196). Fans of the magazine Jazz Times will recognize Chris Kelsey’s name. Besides being a great soprano saxophone player he is also an established jazz journalist. For those who have read my past News Letters, you will recognize bassist, Francois Grillots’ name. We have played together many times. He has been a regular sub for Ken Filiano, which means he is a ‘real player’. Matt Lavelle may be a new name for some, but if you Google his name, you’ll learn much about him.
As a unit, we played hard that night with lots of energy. We played one long sustained piece that lasted over 40 minutes. Amazingly throughout, we were able to maintain a musical synergy and relate to each other in a very musical way.
Thursday, July 21: The Lucky Cat Lounge - Chris Kelsey on soprano and Tomas Ulrich on cello and myself on guitar. This was a new setting. We followed trombonist Steve Swell’s dynamite trio with Matthew Heyner- bass and Michael Thompson -drums. (If you ever see them listed, check them out.) This, again, was a new group. In my opinion, Tomas is one of the best improvising cellist on the planet. He brings something very are to the plate. His combination of warmth, technique and sheer creativity are a wonder to behold and to be around. We have been playing together for almost ten years and are totally in sync. This combination, along with Chris’s high energy and free -bop lines, creates a sound scape that is musical and fresh..
Sunday, July 31: The Last Night, at CBGB'S Downstairs Lounge. I wrote about this in July.
Sunday, August 14: - The Woodstock Quantum Ensemble with Johnny Asia, Joe Finn & Dom Minasi with guest vocalist Carol Mennie at the Colony Café, Woodstock, NY: again lots of fun and very musical despite the weather conditions a hurricane-like storm! It was nice to see Joe Giardullo & MichaelBisio (bass) in the audience.
Thursday, September 8: The New Vanguard Series at the Gallery at Deep Listening Space, The Chris Kelsey, Dom Minasi, and Tomas Ulrich. Again a rip-roaring evening with lots of soulful playing.
September 15: CMJ Music Marathon @Kavehaz - The Dom Minasi Trio with Ken Filiano on bass and Jackson Krall on drums and guest artist Tomas Ulrich.
During this and the next year, I’ve decided to have some extra fun by having special guest artists join the trio. Some of the guests on upcoming gigs will be: Blaise Siwula, Perry Robinson, Ras Moshe, Sabir Mateen - just to name a few. For this occasion, Tomas Ulrich was the guest artist. I started each set with one tune by the trio and then Tomas would come up and finish the set. This was not a ‘free for all jam’. Tomas learned the arrangements and played his ‘a’ off. We had some friends in the audience too. The wonderful jazz vocalist, Fay Victor was there with her arranger/songwriter/producer husband, Jochem van Dijk, Jazz Publicist and friend, Jim Eigo, showed up as did Saxist, Ras Moshe, (who has a featured solo the next record.). Soprano saxophonist, Gilles Laheurte, who now writes for Jazz Improv, was there to write a review of the group. I am very grateful to Gilles for he gave us a stunning review. Check the October issue of Jazz Improv, which is free, and can be found in all the clubs, hotels and concert halls in NYC. A performance would not be complete, if when I looked up and did not see the beautiful face of my singer/actress wife, Carol this night sitting across from good friend and another beautiful face, director/actress Jennifer Gelfer. Videotograper, Robert O’haire, video taped the last two sets. Watch for CDM News Flash in the next few weeks, because some of this night will be ‘viewable’ on my website.
That’s it for now! If you happen to be in NYC, Brooklyn or the Hudson Valley area, it would be great to see you at one (or more) of the following:
Thursday, November 3 - Dom Minasi and bassist Michael Bissio at The New Vanguard Series at the gallery at Deep Listening Space , 75 Broadway (Historic Roundout), Kingston, New York. For reservations, please call (845) 338-5984.
Sunday, November 6 - Borah Bergman / Dom Minasi Duo at the 5C Cafe , 68 Ave C, East 5th & Ave C in New York from 7 - 9:00 pm.
Sunday, November 13 -DDT with Dom Minasi on guitar, Tomas Ulrich on cello and Ken Filiano on bass at the 5C Cafe , 68 Ave C, East 5th & Ave C in New York from 7 - 9:00 pm.
Sunday, November 20 - The Dom Minasi Trio with Ken Filanoon bass and Jackson Krall on drums at the 5C Cafe , 68 Ave C, East 5th & Ave C in New York from 7 - 9:00 pm.
Sunday, November 27 - Borah Bergman / Dom Minasi Duo at the 5C Cafe , 68 Ave C, East 5th & Ave C in New York from 7 - 9:00 pm.
Tuesday, November 29 - On the Way Out Series: Music From The Underground, Freddy's Back Room , The Dom Minasi Trio with guest artist Blaise Siwula, 485 Dean Street at 6th Ave, Brooklyn, NY, (718) 622-7035, 9pm
Special: July 31st 2005 - The Final Night of CBGB’S Downstairs Avant Music.
Carol & I arrived at CB’s around 7:45 that night. Dee Pop, curator of the program, told me earlier that week that he was putting together small groups to play short sets. As the musicians would show up, Dee would decide who was to play with whom. When we got there Joe Giardullo was on the bandstand playing with steel guitarist, Susan Alcorn, cellist Audrey Chen and percussionist Tatsuya Nakatuni. To say the least, the music they created together sounded great. Dee told me to go up next. He wanted to keep the music quiet. Would I mind playing duo with saxophonist Sabir Mateen? I always wanted to play with Sabir and was happy to do this. As I was setting up, Dee asked if I wouldn’t mind bassist Reuben Radding playing too? “Yes”.. I always admired Reuben’s playing. But just as I agreed, Ken Filiano showed up and Dee said: “since Ken is the bassist in your trio, he should play”. We were all set. Sabir started very gently laying some lines down. I followed. Ken laid out. As Sabir’s music grew in intensity, so did mine. In less than a minute the two of us were playing with sheer energetic outbursts. Three minutes later, Ken joined in with equal intensity and as a trio we had blasted off and were reaching for the stratosphere. That was the end of Dee’s quiet music idea!
When we started playing, I put my head down and, as usual, the only time I would lift it was to toss away my worn-out guitar pick and get another one. Ten minutes into some of the most intense playing I have done, I heard drums. Not just any drums, but whoever this was, he was fitting right in, just the way Jackson Krall fits so well with the trio. I turned my head for a second, and sitting and wailing was Jackson! It seems Jackson walked in while we were playing. Carol teasing him said: “ you missed your introduction. Dee already announced you”. ..Jackson wondered if he should get up there? Carol said “why not!” My look of surprise and sheer delight was worth the price of admission!
So the group that was supposed to be a duo became a trio… and then a quartet. We played about 35 - 40 minutes, non-stop! I was sweating so much, I’m surprised I didn’t get electrocuted from the guitar or the amp. I came off the bandstand drenched but exhilarated… as was Sabir, Ken and Jackson. I thanked everyone involved. I sent Dee an email, expressing my gratitude for creating a space for avant music to flourish and for allowing CB’s to become a home to my group and others. I thanked him for inviting us to play on this ‘historical’ and ‘memorable’ night. Dee recorded the music and hopefully I will have some to put up on my website soon.
I would like to publicly express my thanks to Dee Pop for his tireless efforts. Dee took on an enormous responsibility when he got CB’s to start this series. Alone, he booked four different groups every Sunday night for the last 4 years. Simply trying to get 3 musicians together for 1 rehearsal or one gig, I can only imagine the headache of juggling with all the scheduling, but he did it …and he did it all himself! Congrats Dee Pop!!! And thanks from all of us. Hopefully, like the Phoenix, you will rise again!
Hello Again. A lot has happened since my last news letter in March. All of you out there have been very kind not to mention my weight gain you can obviously see in the most recent pictures on the website, and I thank you for that, but you'll be happy to know since then I have lost 28 lbs. I have much more to go, but thanks to Dr. Boxhill I am finally on the mend and my energy has come back.
March 1st-21st: I've spent most of this time composing the music for a major new CDM recording, "V.R.", which begins on May 12th, while rehearsing with pianist, Borah Bergman, for our upcoming duo recording date. For "V.R." (full disclosure will come; it's still a secret) I will be recording 4 compositions with my trio - Ken Filiano and Jackson Krall with a variety of special guest artists. This project is something I have had in mind for a very long time and finally, it is happening!. Needless to say it has been a scheduling nightmare. And this is only the first part. It will be a 2-disc release. Some of the tracks will have up to 12 musicians and my friend, Byron Olsen who just returned from conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, will conduct 4 of the compositions which we hope to record in June and July. This will be a long process because some of the musicians I am using live in Europe and will only be in NY at specific & limited times. It may take well over six months to complete the recording, but I am not in a rush. I will fill you in as we go along - when we get close to a release date, I will reveal who the musicians are and what kind of music it is. I can tell you one thing: it isn't jazz as you know it! (you expected something else from me?!!)
March 22-27th: London Carol and I left on March 22 but arrived on the morning of the 23rd. Needless to say we were exhausted but exhilarated to be in London. I actually felt like I was 'home'. I was so comfortable and relaxed there. We had a chance to not only meet some of the local talent but to hear them as well. We went to a concert featuring soprano saxophonist, Lol Coxhill, one of England's premier improvising musicians. I met with Martin Davidson of Emanem Records who described the music scene in London and helped me get some of my CD's in the record stores there. We saw some great theatre including Carol's friend Kim Cattrall (T.V.'s "Sex and the City") in "Whose Life Is It Anyway" and thanks to our good friend, Jennifer Gelfer, got to experience parts of London we otherwise wouldn't have....thanks Jen! It was an extraordinary week!...then, too soon, it was over and onto...
March 28-31: Paris The moment we stepped off of the train (we took the famed 'Chunnel') we felt an overwhelming sense of history. And Carol had the same reaction of being 'home' that I had in London. Every street, every house, everywhere - It was like stepping out of a time-machine ..... truly amazing! Luckily for us, friend and jazz journalist, Charles Walker (he wrote the liner notes for "Quick Response" and has his own website: http://www.sudden-thoughts.com/) now lives in Paris and speaks perfect French. Charles was our interpreter and guide and a great dinner partner for the mere three days we spent there (way too little time). Paris is surrounded by a cloud of cigarette smoke. Everywhere and anywhere we'd go there was smoke...ah, the good ole' days! In London everything sort of closed down around 11 PM. In Paris the streets and cafes were still crowded at 1 A.M. ...so one evening, after we said goodnight to our trusted friend & tour guide, we braved the unfamiliar streets of Paris and Carol & I stumbled on a small, out of the way 'Jazz Club'. It was under a cafe, down a spiraling set of stairs that led into a room with people sitting on cushions smoking and listening to a trio ( sax, electric piano, drums ) playing a blues. They were young and obviously still learning... It looked like a scene right out of the bohemian 60's. Although we didn't stay, it was fun to discover a little part of Paris we otherwise wouldn't have...and gave us an excuse to walk down otherwise untroddened territory...we both miss Paris and can't wait to go back....so it was ironic to see what our mail welcomed us home with - we received a copy of " Jazz Sphere" a french music magazine with several photos & lengthy article about me as well as Carol's CD ..hopefully it's an omen...we will return!
April 9th: Joe Giardullo Recording Date: Before the date, Joe sent the driving instructions. He said it would only take me about 20 minutes to get there from our upstate place. Little did I know it would be deep in the woods...I mean DEEP... being a city boy, I found myself muttering ³Where the hell are we?² We were so deep in the woods I don¹t think the Bears know about this place. Okay, I¹ll get serious. Once I found my way there, the first thing that impressed me was the quality of musicianship. Joe couldn¹t have found a better group of players who were ready, willing, and able to leave their ego¹s home and think and play like a team. This is rare. The musicians were: Brian Melnick- percussion, Daniel Levin-cello, David Prentice-violin, Gordon Allen-trumpet, Lori Freedman-bass clarinet/clarinet, Joe Mc Phee-pocket trumpet & tenor sax, Rich Rosenthal- electric guitar, Rosie Hertlein- violin/voice, Steve Lantner - piano, Joe Giardullo- alto flute/soprano sax & myself on acoustic archtop. For me, this was a great and rewarding experience. What Joe asked us to play was difficult and took a lot of concentration and listening. Reading this music was like reading a road map with a lot of red dots that go in all directions, but ultimately end up in the same place. At the same time you try not to collide with the other cars on the road, but if you do, try to do it gently...expected release in 2006.
April 11: WVOF FM Fairfield University, CT : A First! Carol and I had our first live radio interview as a 'couple' with Joe Kelley on his Joe Kelly Upper Room Broadcast. Actually it was our second, the first being a phone interview, but that's not the same. Joe is very knowledgeable and asks savvy questions. He asked me to bring my guitar so we could perform ' live' in the studio, which we happily agreed to. I was there two years ago to talk about the trio with Ken & Jackson and DDT with Ken, Tomas Ulrich-cello and the 'plus 2': John Bollinger on drums and Carol on the vocal track. But this time it was to talk about CDM's latest recordings - which were released almost simultaneously: "Quick Response" and Carol's "I'm Not A Sometime Thing". When you get a moment, if would like to hear some of this for yourself, you can go give a listen.
April 25 10PM WEAA 89.9 FM Doc Manning was gracious enough to let Bernard Lyons interview me on his show. We spoke about my upcoming concert at An Die Musik LIVE! which Bernard was sponsoring, as well as my approach to music and jazz. Doc played some cuts from "Takin' The Duke Out" and "Goin' Out Again" then gave an enthusiastic 'thumbs up!' for his listening audience to come out and listen to the Trio live with Ken Filiano & Jackson Krall on Friday evening.
April 27- CBGB'S NYC: This was my Trio's precursor gig for the next two coming up. I always like to introduce something new with each performance and on this date I brought out an old arrangement I hadn't played since 1986 of Eric Dolphy's The Baron. I lost the music (never memorized it) years ago and haven't been able to find it. Every saxophonist I asked knew the song but didn't have the music except for Joe Giardullo. Thank you Joe! So, finally, after almost 20 years, I was able to perform this tune again. This time I used my 12-string guitar, with a digital delay and a little looping device, along with Ken's electronics and master bass playing and Jackson's uncanny rhythmic skills, we turned a Bebop tune into a 21st Century improvisational musical adventure. Dee Pop took a much-needed break, and Roberta & Richard Berger did a great job of pinch-hitting!
April 29: An Die Musik LIVE! - Baltimore: I have never been to Baltimore. I've passed by on my way to DC or the Southwest and other destinations, but I've never spent any time there. We spent one day and one night there and the feeling I got was a peaceful one. The space we (Ken Filiano, Jackson Krall & Me) played in was above a record shop that specializes in excellent music and was set up for a concert situation. There was a large stage and the chairs for the audience were over-sized cushioned-type that sat one person and were very comfortable. As we walked towards the stage, while Bernard was giving us this wonderful introduction, I was astounded and flabbergasted to see Jack Frisch, from NYC (CD artist & designer of Quick Response) and his girlfriend, Cathy, from PA! It seems Carol knew they might be there, but wanted me to be surprised. Wow! It's always great to see familiar faces when you're playing out-of-town. We played two sets. The audience that showed up was a little older than I imagined, but they were very attentive and their response was genuine. One thing I love about the trio is, that after fours years, we don't have to warm up or find our 'zone'. We are there from the first note on. The camaraderie among the three of us is real - and the audience recognizes it immediately. We mixed it up with some originals and some standards. In each set, I played solo guitar; first set was What's New then from Goin' Out Again, Trane's Lament. During the break I met with Gary Flowers a local guitar maker. After the concert, Doc Manning and I had a long discussion about jazz - where it came from, where it's going, and what young people think, and how we can get more of them interested in it. I felt this was a good beginning to our short trip...all the people involved, especially Bernard and Doc made me want to do this one again, soon.
April 30: Sangha- Takoma Park MD. Takoma Park was only an hour away from Baltimore, so there was no rush in getting there. Earlier that morning, Bernard from An Die LIVE treated us to breakfast at a local eatery near the waterfront. What a nice way to say goodbye....Bernard was great host! ........ We arrive at Sangha around 2PM. Met with Jennifer and Tim, who work there, and they showed us around . We dropped off our equipment and went back to the hotel to rest. We came back at 6 o'clock to set up. Met with Larry Appelbaum, one of the coordinator's of the series , and then out for dinner. For all of you who don't recognize Larry's name, he has been all over the news lately. He is the man who discovered the tapes of Monk & Trane! We returned at 8PM to play. It was pouring rain and the forecast said it would rain the rest of the night. We all know that weather can affect a turn-out and it did. When we first started to play there were only a few people in the audience, but when I lifted my head after playing a long solo, to my surprise, that number had doubled and more people were coming in, It wasn't a full house, but it was a terrific audience to play for. I think the best way to describe what happened that night is to give you a glimpse of an email Larry Appelbaum sent to Kate Smith: "Dom's gig was great. Small turn-out, due I think to heavy rain last night, but it was a serious, listening audience. The band killed. And they're such nice guys too. They'll get great word of mouth next time they come through" That about sums it up...looking forward to the next time... Thanks Larry!
Two weeks ago a dear friend passed away in Israel. Some of you youngsters may not know him, but most of you will. His name was Arnie Lawrence. I have often spoken of the 70's when I was part of a rhythm section led by drummer Joe Coleman. Joe always had a steady gig somewhere or a series of concerts and sometimes we would play two or three gigs in one day. Every week he had different guest artist. I also mentioned many times before, vibraphonist, Harry Sheppard who was a major influence on me and to whom I dedicated Goin' Out Again. Arnie Lawrence was part of that time and part of that influence. I met him on a gig with Harry and played with him many times after that. Arnie knew how to take a solo and build and build till there was no more to say. Then Harry would do the same thing. Imagine trying to keep up with these guys! I learned a lot because of them; and even though my major influences were Monk, Trane, Dolphy and Cecil, it was Arnie and Harry who taught me how to put it all together. Years later, Arnie helped start the New School. Later on he moved to Israel. A few years ago, in one of my first News Letters, I told an incredible story related to me by bassist, Mike Richmond, about a jazz musician living in Israel who would sneak across the border to play jazz. A place where Palestinians and Israeli's put down their arms, religion, hatred and listened to Arnie Lawrence play. Amazing! I never mentioned his name for fear he might get into trouble. Arnie was a true Hero in every sense. If only the world leaders could find that place in their hearts. Maybe we should find a space, in the UN, for Diplomats from around the world to sit, relax and enjoy 'live jazz'. Maybe Jazz is the common ground and it is really that simple. Now wouldn't that be something! Till next time...
" May music bring you inner peace and outward harmony." - Dom
Hello Again. It's been four months since my last News Letter. Happy Belated New Year! Much has been happening behind the scenes... I've been writing the music for the next three CD's: two for me and another vocal CD for Carol. Rehearsals start after a short road trip at the end of April.
Quick Response, I am happy to report, garnered lots of great reviews and was on the CMJ Charts for many weeks - and is still getting radio play. Reviews are still coming in. For her first solo outing, Carol's I'm Not A Sometime Thing did very well and is still getting radio play and made the Twirlie Nominations list for 2004. We have our first interview as a 'music-couple' in the upcoming issue of One Way Magazine and our second radio interview together. This time on Joe Kelly's Upper Room WVOF 88.5 FM on April 11th 5pm where we will also perform. Journalist, Alexander Gelfand wrote a feature about me in the March issue of Jazziz Magazine. Meanwhile, look for features in Jazz Improv and Goldmine, All About Jazz LA & San Francisco. If you happen to be in France, look for an article on me by Sebastien Moig in Jazz Sphere. What great birthday gifts!!! (I'm very grateful).
Feb 3rd- Deep Listening Space- Kingston NY. Johnny Asia, Joe Finn & Me. This is the second time I've played at the Space, and the second time with this guitar trio. They say the more you play together the better it gets. "They" must know what they are talking about. This is such a fun group, I can't say much more about it. Every time I hear Johnny and Joe play solo guitar, they just keep getting better. I have have to remind myself that I'm the 'old guy' so I'd better practice so I can keep up with them! David Arner is doing a great job of keeping this series going.
Feb17th- The Italian Cultural Center, NYC-The Press Party for Festival Italiano. This was the event to introduce the press to the festival administrators. Jim Eigo organized this event and Carol and I were invited. Italian Guitarist, Fabrizio Sotto was to perform. In the cab on the way over, being just a few blocks away, our cell phone rang and it was Jim. An emergency has occurred. It seems that Fabrizio had injured himself and couldn't play. Could I go home and get my guitar and sub for him? I said "ok". Jim warned me that it would be short. I would be playing with a bass player and I had to play standards. I said "you know Jim, I haven't played straight ahead in a long time ". Jimmy smiled, "Yeah I know, but you can do it". It took a long time to get back across town (rush hour) pick up my gear and back again. I got there just as the speeches ended. When Carol & I walked in we got a warm reception from Jazz Italia's Enzo Capua.
Jim introduced me to bassist Joseph Lepore. He was already set up. I took out my guitar, plugged in my amp, tuned up and waited till it was time to play. When I was given the signal (you must get a signal or God forbid you play!!), we opened up with All Blues followed by Stella By Starlight, then How Insensitive and finishing with Monk's Well You Needn't. It's always nice to play with someone new. The exploration and the musical journey you take together makes the ride worth while. We played to a packed house. Ronnie Cuber was there as was piano master Pete Malinverni along with guitarist Fabrizio Sotto.
The audience attentively listened and applauded vigorously after every tune. I surprised myself by playing so tonal....it was different for me but fun. We only played for 25 minutes and it was over. Usually I play one tune for 25 minutes. As we were leaving we ran into Richard & Roberta Berger (regulars at CB's) and I said, "so now you know I can play straight ahead" and Richard replied " Don't worry we won't tell anyone!"
Feb 19th- The Rosendale Cafe- Rosendale NY. Dom Minasi's DDT +1 with Tomas Ulrich-cello, Ken Filiano-bass and featuring vocalist Carol Mennie. This gig was suppose to happen on January 22, but due to a massive blizzard, everything shut down. We were geared up for this one. Everything was in place. We got great press coverage. Bob Margolis wrote a major piece in the Woodstock Times on me and the group, but as I said earlier, we were snowed out. Mark Morganstern was gracious enough to give us a snow date, Feb 19. The Rosendale Cafe is an important musical venue in the Hudson Valley and I was really happy to be playing there. For this gig, I wanted to present the music in a different way. I thought the audience would be interested in getting some musical history of DDT and hear the kind of music we were playing when we first came into being. The original instrumentation was Cello, 12- string Guitar & Bass.
I explained that the DDT's concept was through-composed, chamber jazz with elements of free-form improvisation, atonality and dissonance (can you say that in one breath?). The first piece we played was called Dissonance Makes The Heart Grow Fonder. As the group got older and wiser the tunes became a little more tonal. The next two pieces were from our Time Will Tell release: My Soul Cries Out & Waltz for Eric. Carol Mennie joined us and sang selections from her solo CD, I'm Not A Sometime Thing, but she also sang her haunting rendition of 'Round About Midnight, from Time Will Tell. She also broke-in two new arrangements. Carol, Ken and Tomas were in top form and I couldn't have been happier. It's always great when fellow musicians stop in; it was nice to see saxophonist extraordinaire, Joe Giardullo & his artist-wife Denise as well as guitar great Rolf Sturm in the audience. Hudson Valley Youth Orchestra Coordinator, Richard Wixom and his wife Vindora (Arts Society of Kingston (NY) stopped by to hear a set. Mark was extremely happy and invited us back to play in late Spring/early summer....we're ready!
Feb 27th- CBGB'S Downstairs Lounge Avant Series. The Dom Minasi Trio with Ken Filiano and Jackson Krall. CB's has become a home for my trio. Dee Pop who runs the Sunday night series has been very generous to my group. It's here where I break in new material and expand on the old. This night was exactly what I wanted it to be. I wanted to play some of the material that will be on our next CD which will be all original music.
I love free-form playing, but I also love playing standards. I try to combine the two when I can and I like it to be a surprise. We started off with a bang ripping right into up-tempo free-form playing. After solos from all, I had Ken set-up a vamp, but different from the one that is usually heard on Foot Prints. Then I soloed on the vamp for a while and began to play the melody. Every time I played the melody, I would play it differently- sometimes using quarter tones. The energy was high. We ended just the way we started.
The next piece The Vampire's Revenge is a tune I wrote a few years ago that I performed many times with Blaise Siwula. It is dark, haunting and it demands constant listening to each other to keep it musical. I then switched to my 12- string guitar. As I said earlier, I like to expand on the old. We played my arrangement of All Blues. It's the same arrangement I used on Goin'Out Again, but the 12-string really gave it something new and different. I stayed on the12-string for the next original piece The Dark Side. This is a very atonal ballad. Picture Schoenberg playing a jazz ballad while intoxicated and making mistakes. I think that comes close to it. It is not an easy piece to play and it does ask the audience a very simple question: "Is this guy for real or what?!!!" Seriously folks, I know that my music can sometimes be demanding on an audiences' ears and senses, but I have to trust that an audience can be sophisticated enough to go along for the ride without being judgmental.
Switching back to my six-string, we finished with a stomping original The First Day, which goes from cut time to swing and back and forth. I had a great time. I can never say enough about Ken & Jackson; without them, I could not reach the levels I want to reach. It was great to see loyal friends in the audience like Roberta & Richard Berger, Alice & John Pucknat, jazz vocalist Fay Victor and her composer husband, Jochem, Artist and the designer of Goin' out Again & Time Will Tell, Horacio Molina. It was a 'kick' to be playing while piano genius Borah Bergman sat and listened.......
Till next time...
" May music bring you inner peace and outward harmony." - Dom
Hello everyone. It has been some time since my last news letter, so there's a lot of catching up to do!
September19th CBGB'S. NYC.The trio with Ken Filiano & Jackson Krall. This was the first time I used my 12-string guitar with the trio. I love playing this guitar; it can open up a whole new world for me and the group.....certain songs I play with the trio (The Day After Next, etc.) get a brand-new take with this instrument. Jackson & Ken just melt into the sound and make it their own. What else can I say? I've also have been using it for some of the rehearsals I've been having with piano genius, Borah Bergman. I will talk more about playing with Borah at another time, but let me just say for the record, "playing with Borah is the most incredible musical experience I have ever had. He is by far one the most unsung heroes of this century."
October 1st. '33' Kingston NY. DDT+2. This was a pre-cursor gig to Carol's new CD, I'm Not A Sometime Thing. DDT is the base group (Tomas Ulrich, Ken Filiano). The recording, which also includes Michael Jefry Stevens - piano, Patience Higgins - reeds, Valery Ponomarev - trumpet & flugel horn, drummer Jay Rosen and percussionist Tom Mc Grath. For this performance we had the original drummer from the Time Will Tell CD, John Bollinger (DDT + 2). Confused yet? Ok. It was a good night. And by that I mean, we had an enthusiastic audience, everyone played at their usual best and Carol sang the best she has ever sung up-to-date. I know she's my wife and I do like to brag- besides her vocal prowess, she has that 'show biz' thing down. She doesn't make it boring. Besides smiling and chatting with audience she loves to tease me and say "are you ever going to smile sweetheart?" Everyone laughs, and of course I take that usual jazz guitarist point of view 'hey this is serious stuff'.. I grunt and just put my head down and play .
November 1st. Smoke NYC: the Double CD Release Celebration. Instead of naming all the musicians who were there, let me tell you who was not there. From Carol's group: percussionist Tom Mc Grath, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens and subbing for drummer Jay Rosen, John Bollinger. Everyone was there from my new organ group: Mark Whitecage-sax, Lyle Koehler-organ, John Bollinger-drums. What an incredible night! The club comfortably seats 50 people including tables and bar. We had over 75 people. If you think that was crowded, you should have seen the bandstand. We had seven musicians including Carol plus an unmovable organ. Patience doubled on tenor sax, flute and soprano sax. Valery also had his flugel horn with him. We really juggled to make room for cello & bass to bow, my 2 guitars, and finally Carol's mike stand had to go into the audience. We opened up the first set with Inside Out, an original instrumental composition, featuring everyone in the group. Carol was a little delayed, so we took some requests and played Stella by Starlight & Take The A Train. Carol came in just as we finished and opened up with the first cut from her new CD, an original of mine, Jazz, Jazz, Jazz. As I said earlier, Carol is a real trooper and she had the audience in the palm of her hand the whole time. Because of time constraints we only performed seven songs from the CD and closed with a very up-tempo Lover Man. Kudos to everyone in the group. They helped make it all happen. Up next, was my new organ group. We opened with the opened up with Cole Porter's What Is This Thing Called Love. Again because of time constraints, we had to cut it short, but everyone's playing was exceptional. Special thanks to Carol, Jim Eigo, Ann Ratray, the owners of Smoke- Paul & Frank, and to all who came (not just New Yorkers, but PA, NJ & even from LA!) and helped make it an exciting musical event. Watch for photos from Smoke... coming soon on the website!
November 13th. AIR Studio Gallery - Kingston NY. The Guitar Summit with Johnny Asia, Joe Finn and me. First let me give you some history on how this happened. Three years ago when my website first came into existence, I got an email from guitarist Johnny Asia. He liked my music and in turn, I went to his site and I liked his music. Johnny is a very special player and stands alone in his original concept. Because Carol & I would be spending more time in the Hudson Valley Area, Johnny suggested I get in touch with Joe Finn another guitarist, who like me, comes from a traditional point of view. Needless to say that my open-heart surgery got in the way and I didn't meet Johnny face to face, till a year later. We got together and jammed with saxophonist Gus Mancini. Since then we get together to play every once in a while. Meanwhile Joe Finn and I still hadn't met in person, but we purchased each others CDs and we got to know each others musical tastes. Joe is one of the finest post-boppers around. His lines are smooth, his chords are rich and he always make musical sense. Finally, Johnny organized this gig where the three of us could play. What a night!
Each of us played a solo piece. Joe opened up with a beautiful rendition of Lush Life and set the standard for excellence that night. Johnny knocked everyone's socks off with his Himalayan Sunrise. I was next with an un-traditional take on 'Round Midnight and then we all played together in an open robust jam. It would be hard to describe what we played and what it sounded like. Imagine a musical jambalaya with a little bit of this and a little bit of that and some unusual spices for flavor. Hopefully in a few weeks I can put a sound bite on my website so you can hear for yourself. But I can describe the feeling I got from that night and it was sheer joy. We played a little over an hour. We started the second set with me switching to my 12-string acoustic and Carol singing our funky arrangement of Willow Weep For Me and her rendition of Billy Barnes' Too Long At The Fair. I had a great time. The audience had a great time - and I know Joe & Johnny had a great time because this is what they had to say about that night:
Joe: "Johnny Asia, Dom Minasi and I played our concert this weekend. It was everything I had hoped it would be. It was one of those musical experiences that we'll all continue to savor for a long while. Dom also performed with his charming wife, vocalist Carol Mennie, and this was one of the highlights of the show. Dom was gracious enough to give me copies of his two new cds. I think they are terrific and I'm sure a lot of people are going to love them. Quick Response is Dom's new organ combo featuring Mark Whitecage on alto, and I'm Not A Sometime Thing is a CD by Carol Mennie featuring Dom's arrangements of things like You Don't Know What Love Is, Willow Weep For Me, In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning and several originals. Carol's CD also features Valery Ponomarev's trumpet which is a real treat. Listening to these discs makes it easy to see why Dom has been getting so much positive attention in the jazz press over the past couple of years. He deserves it. Johnny gave us a definitive rendition of his signature piece "Himalayan Sunrise" that was superb and inspired. He played great all night as usual. It was nice to see Willie Yee (performed before the trio) also and to hear him sing his hysterical lyric to "Little Darling". That was the funniest thing I heard all night!!!!"
And Johnny said: "One of the most fun moments for me was when I was expecting Joe to play a solo, then he launched into Pat Martino's The Visit, prompting Dom to close his eyes and start wailing, which prompted me to join in, and we were all 3 smiling at the end. The Jazz guitar highlight was a Joe & Dom duo of Monks' Mysterioso. It turned out that Dom had never played that tune before, but nobody would have ever known it!"
Watch for some sound bites coming soon on the website!
Well that's it. Till the next time. From all of us at CDM, we wish you a Happy, Healthy and a Safe Thanksgiving!
Hello Everyone. It's been a joyous, busy, and sad time. The music world has lost 7 giants in a short space of time. Steve Lacy, Ray Charles, Elvin Jones, Jackie Paris, Illinois Jacquet , James Williams and recording engineer, David Baker.... all will be surely missed.
Congrats to Bill Milkowski for being awarded Jazz Journalist Author of the year!
Thanks to the efforts of Mixed Media and Ginny Shea, I recently picked up 2 Endorsements, which I am very happy about:
May.... finished Carol's CD, I'm Not A Sometime Thing, David R. Adler has done a great job with the liner notes which he handed in a few weeks ago. Carol has gone for her cover shot and in a few weeks we will be able to hand in her finished product to the manufacturer. I'm very excited about this project. Carol has worked hard and deserves as much recognition as anyone.
June 7th... Recorded my next release, Quick Response, at Systems Two in Bklyn, with Jon Rosenberg engineering. Nice studio. Great sound. I used Mark Whitecage on alto sax, Kyle Koehler on organ and John Bollinger on drums. I wanted something different with this recording and enlisted musicians who liked to be challenged. Some of the charts were difficult. Not so much the reading, but the tempos were killers. We had 4 rehearsals, including the day before. I wanted everyone to be ready to nail everything in one or two shots. As I do on my gigs and concerts, I opened up with a burner. This puts everyone on their toes and ready to play. I'm not one of these leaders who likes to start off slow and by the 3rd or 4th tune; your group is in sync and ready to play. My philosophy is 'be ready on the first beat of the first tune! Well these guys were ready.
The first tune was a burner and and burn they did! We started that way and finished that way. You know I¹m having a good time when I am soloing, smiling & laughing (with John) all at the same time. Mark Whitecage is one of the most amazing players on the planet. I hope with this record he will get more recognition than he's ever gotten before. When you hear some of his solos your mouth will drop. Remember this name: Kyle Koehler (organ)...that's all I have to say. You'll understand why when you hear him. I have raved about John Bollinger before and very simply John brings such joy and happiness to the music, you can't help having a good time. He is one of my favorites. We finished so fast that when Jack Frisch showed up to take pictures for the CD jacket we were almost done. Now that's the way to record. I go by the Boy Scouts motto: " Be Prepared"
I spent the rest of the month listening so that when I went in to mix with Jon I was prepared and I knew exactly what I wanted to hear. Jon was great. He is cool, knowledgeable and he must be psychic because he knew precisely what I wanted. We spent one day mixing 9 tunes, and another doing the final mix, making a radio edit for one tune. One of the ballads was 9 minutes long, which is ok for college and some public stations, but stations like WBGO won't play a 9-minute tune. Some stations will get an edited version along with the original. I sent the CD to Charles Walker who wrote some phenomenal liner notes. The CD package will be completed in a few weeks and sent off to the manufacturer.
July13th - Tonic, NYC with Henry Kaiser, Lukas Ligeti & Jonas Hellborg....The week before I read in Time Out Magazine that Henry was coming to town. I missed his performance the last time he was here and I knew we would be around, so I emailed him to let him know we would be there and could finally meet. Let me go back a few years and give you some history. Henry & I met on line a few years ago when Jim Eigo sent him a copy of Takin' The Duke Out. (For those who don't know Henry's work go to his website and check out this amazing guitarist. Henry wrote to Jim and said some wonderful things about the record. I in turn wrote to Henry to thank him. Then a few months later, Henry asked if I would do a solo guitar piece for an upcoming record, which I did (it hasn't been released yet). Back to July 2004. When Henry received my email, he immediately answered and said that the other guitarist (Ray Russell) probably wasn't coming because of a family emergency in England. "Could I do the gig?" "I would love to" I answered. He said he would let me know by Saturday the 10th. That Saturday Henry emailed to say, "We were on" and to meet him at the sound check.
Tuesday night at 6:30 Carol & I arrived at Tonic. Henry was setting up. He had at least 4 guitars with him and lots of electronic equipment. Bassist, Jonas Hellborg had 2 beautiful hand-carved custom basses. One electric and one acoustic-electric. Drummer Lukas Ligeti was setting up. By the time I set up, everyone was ready to play. My biggest concern was that with my equipment (I had my Polytone Mini Brute with my custom Archtop) I may not be loud enough for free form fusion jazz, but the groups volume turned out to be fine and the blend of the two different sounding guitars worked out. We did some free-form improv for the sound check. Got our levels set and then waited to perform at 8 PM. Around 7 PM a line started forming outside of the club. By 8 PM the club was jammed and there still was a line waiting to get in. By the time we went on to play every inch of space in the club was occupied. If you weren't sitting you were standing shoulder to shoulder.
To show you how popular Henry is, my cousin Marie & her husband Steve who have never seen me play, came in from Long island with friends because I was playing with Henry. We started playing at 8:15. Again free-form improv with different grooves. Sometimes in time, sometimes out of time. The rhythm section was excellent. You could tell that Lucas & Jonas had played together before and were very comfortable with each other. Henry and I played duets and solos and collective improv within group structure. I had a great time. Henry is a superior player and very comfortable in many genres. We hit it off personally and musically from the start. Lukas & Jonas played some great solos, and always very musical. Henry did something very unusual for Tonic. We played one piece for 40 minutes, took a 10-minute break and played another piece 40 minutes. It worked. Everyone was happy and this was a very rewarding experience for me. Bruce Galenter of The Downtown Music Gallery fame was there and I had a chance to hang with singer/bassist, Eric Mingus & multi instrumentalist, Elliot Sharp....great night!
Thursday July 14th Pauline Oliveros Deep Listening Space - Kingston. NY... Pianist David Arner who took over the booking for Joe Giardullo at the Uptown Thursday night series, started a new series in Kingston when the Uptown sadly closed (it's re-opening as 33 under new management). The Listening Space is an art gallery with some very interesting pieces. Above is a recording studio. I love playing surrounded by art.... I find it very inspirational. I decided for that performance I would play standards, but in my own indelible way. That evening was very hot and this was the first time in a year that I brought out my Aria D'Aquisto Guitar on a gig. The great thing about a small space is you don't have to play loud and this guitar 's acoustic sound came right through past the electric sound. For me it took a little time, but after the first piece I made whatever adjustments I needed in my attack to to be comfortable. Because I was playing solo, I regretted not bringing my Takamine 12- String just for a change of sound. I knew that night, that at my next solo gig at Downtown Music Gallery, I would bring 2 guitars.
It is hard for me to talk about my playing, so the next best thing would be for you to hear it. As soon as I have a copy of the recording that was made that night, you'll be able to hear some of it on my website. I'll keep you posted. Sitting in the audience was one of my favorite musicians, who I only met a few weeks before and whose CD I was listening to in the car on the way over, Joe McPhee (Reeds & Brass). Joe has one of the best trios around: Trio X with bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Jay Rosen. For those who aren't aware of my history, Dominic & Jay were instrumental in bringing me back into the recording arena again. Richard Wixom, Director of the Hudson Valley Youth Orchestra was there with his wife, Vindora and his bassist son Mark. It's always nice to look up and see friendly faces when you play. I had a good time and hopefully I will be performing more and more upstate with Carol and my various groups.
Sunday July 25- The Downtown Music Gallery, NYC.... As I said earlier I would use two guitars for this concert and I did. Again, I opted to play some standards. I opened up with some free form playing and went into a very out version of Don't Blame Me. The reason I picked this tune is because when I was very young I saw Monk at the Five Spot and he played this song. What impressed me about his interpretation was that each time he played the melody, he played it differently. That made a remarkable impression on me and stayed with me my whole life. Since then, Don't Blame Me has become a staple in my repertoire and I try to do the same thing as Monk did, but in my own way. The next piece was, The Day After Next, an original from Goin' 'Out Again. This piece was written for acoustic bass and features Ken Filiano. Interestingly enough Ken and his wife, vocalist Andrea Wolper were in the audience along with Roberta & Richard Berger and my biggest fan, musical & business partner, actress, vocalist, soul mate, wife and lover, Carol Mennie-Minasi (did I leave anything out ?!!!). I introduced the piece and said for this one piece I would be Ken. I decided to use my 12-String Takamine and add digital reverb with some looping effects. (I rarely use effects) I felt this tune and situation warranted it. It was like playing duets with myself. I was very happy with the results. I continued with more Monk - Blue Monk & a free-form version of 'Round Midnight. Did a modal version of an old Folk song, Scarlet Ribbons and finished with a very fast and very out version of Wayne Shorter's Footprints. As you can see from past gigs and recordings, I love Monk & Shorter and I play their music every chance I get. Well that's it for now. I hope you are having a great and creative summer. Till next time....
For more info about my upcoming gigs, and Carol's theatre work, please visit the Gig page.
And look out for CDM Records October releases:
* I'm Not A Sometime Thing Carol Mennie's debut record with 5 original vocals composed by Dom Minasi featuring such great players as Patience Higgins-reeds, Valery Ponomarev-trumpet & fluegel horn, Michael Jefry Stevens-piano & string synthesizer, Ken Filiano-bass, Tomas Ulrich-cello, Jay Rosen-drums, Tom McGrath-percussion & Dom on guitar. Produced & arranged by Dom Minasi CDM 1004
*Quick Response: featuring Dom Minasi-guitar, Mark Whitecage-alto sax, Kyle Koehler-organ & John Bollinger-drums including 6 DM originals CDM 1005
One more thing:
II normally don't mention or critique other venues or groups, but if you happen to be into singing and a different kind of vocalizing, there is an off-Broadway show called Toxic Audio. It is a singing group that won the Grammy for ACappella singing. This group knocked me out . It would be hard to describe them, but what they do is amazing .
April 2004 Continued...
Monday, April 12: WFMU radio interview with Irene Trudel and a live performance with DDT + 2. This was the first time since the 80's that I played live-on-the-air with a group. I did Irene's show 2 years ago and played solo during that interview. To say the least, this was exciting as well as fun. The group (Tomas Ulrich-cello, Ken Filiano-bass, John Bollinger-drums, Carol Mennie-vocals) was in sync. Carol's voice was right in the pocket and Irene, as always, was a joy to talk to.
Then later, that same evening, another live interview with Bob Cochran of WMPG from Portland, Maine. This is the first time I had spoken to Bob. Although he wasn't really familiar with my work, except for "Time Will Tell", he asked pertinent questions and made me feel right at home. Unless you speak before hand, you never know what you will be asked, but everything glided along very smoothly; and as a result of that show more people came to my website - not only to listen & browse, but to purchase CDs. I was very pleased when Bob requested copies of "Takin' The Duke Out" & "Goin' Out Again". After getting top radio play for "Time Will Tell", "Takin' The Duke Out" is now among the top ten at WMPG....... Who would have "thunk" it after 3 years. Thanks Bob!
Friday, April 30: The Third Annual Improvised and Festival in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Tomas Ulrich's Cargo Cult with Kevin Norton-percussion, Steve Swell-trombone, myself on guitar & Tomas Ulrich on cello. This was a new group that Tomas put together. I haven't been a sideman since the concert with Blaise Siwula, Peter Kowald and Jeff Arnal almost 2 years ago. For me it is always a challenge to play other peoples music. Tomas writes very interesting and very angular tunes. Some of them are not easy to play. As you know from my other newsletters, I love working with Tomas. He is such a force. As dynamic a player as you will ever hear. Another dynamic and powerful force is trombonist Steve Swell. Steve and I go back a few years. The last time I actually did a gig with Steve was back in the 90's with Mark Whitecage, Dominic Duval, Tomas Ulrich & Jay Rosen at the Knitting Factory. However, this was the first time that I played with percussionist, Kevin Norton. Kevin's reputation preceeded him, and I was really looking forward to playing with Kevin. At the rehearsal he played drums, but on the gig Kevin brought his vibes, which was a nice touch. He really added something special to the group with his musicality. My only complaint is we didn't play long enough (one 45-minute set). I really enjoyed the night, the music and the audience. I want to thank Tomas and also give a very special thanks to Jeff Arnal & Estelle for doing a great job of putting the Festival together!
So what's up?? As you can see there aren't many gigs listed. So what have I been doing? For the last few weeks I've been re-recording and re-mixing some of the songs for Carol's solo debut CD, " I'm Not A Sometime Thing". Fortunately, I was able to get renowned trumpeter, Valery Ponomarev, to record some additional solos before he left town. Recording engineer, Tom McGrath handed me the completed master a few days ago. Now the whole process of putting everything together for a autumn release date begins.
What Else?? I have been writing and rehearsing musicians for the next recording ... which will be totally different and unexpected. We will be recording this 'totally unexpected' group early next month. Meanwhile, I am already working on the music for Carol's second CD and for my next Trio CD while I continue to write, teach, practice and along with my wife, run CDM, Inc. & CDM Records. (so who's sloughing off?!!) .....Till next time!
Hello everyone! As you know from my last news letter there were up-coming concerts, but because of the passing of my mother, for the first time in my career, I cancelled. Fortunately, our new collective, N.I.C.E. (New Improvisational Composers Ensemble) with Mark Whitecage-reeds, Steve Swell-trombone, Cameron Brown-bass, Harvey Sorgen-drums & me on guitar) played the concert on the 28th without me but DDT+2 (Tomas Ulrich-cello, Ken Filiano-bass, John Bollinger-drums & vocalist Carol Mennie) on the 29th was cancelled.
February 28th, 2004: Ulster Community College, Quimby Theater. Even though the demise of jazz is often declared when those out of the loop enter into a discussion of our homegrown art form, a number of some of the most talented group of young people from the Hudson Valley Jazz Institute Lab Band, the Hudson Valley Youth Orchestra and the veteran group of performers led by Dom Minasi (who unfortunately did not perform due to his Mom’s passing, he was missed) New Improvisational Composers Ensemble (N.I.C.E.) got together to prove the doomsayers wrong. The U.S. Congress in 1987 passed Article 57, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers of Detroit, stating that jazz, and those who practice this art form, are National Treasures. This evening lived up to those lofty sentiments in a spectacular performance by all involved along the parents and friends who were there to support their program called Landscapes of Jazz.
N.I.C.E. was next, which had veterans Mark Whitecage, Cameron Brown, Harvey Sorgen and myself. Some inspiring originals by Whitecage and Brown that launched into some beautiful free improvisations which demonstrated a balance that many younger players are rarely exposed to. The highlight of the evening was the addition of some of the students sitting in with N.I.C.E. Mark Wixom- bass, Jon Notar- piano, Mike McGarrill- alto and Chris Krogslund on drums traded ideas and solos with the N.I.C.E. musicians. The ensemble played take the A train to shouts and whistles from the audience and Straight No Chaser to rousing applause.
This was a terrific evening of music, and wonderful program that had enthusiastic support from the community. It should serve as an inspiration to other communities who should be interested in the growth and maturity of their children. Richard Wixom (band coordinator), Bob Shaut (band director) and Dom Minasi should be congratulated on a job well done not only in spreading the word of our National Treasure but the excellence of performances rendered by all involved.
Well there you have it. I thank Steve. He did a great job and if he ever gives up playing, I think he could have a bright future as a journalist.
March 14th: CBGB'S Downstairs Lounge - The Dom Minasi Trio with Ken Filiano on bass and Jackson Krall on drums. It felt strange to play again. The last month was an emotional drain. I hadn't practiced for weeks and I didn't have my usual rehearsal before the gig. I like to introduce at least one new arrangement or tune on each gig. In the last 3 years the trio book has grown tremendously, but there wasn't any time this time. So I decided that the trio would just go in and play free-form for an hour. It is not a rare thing for groups at CB's to do this. In fact, most of the groups play that way. It was rare for me. Jackson does it with Cecil Taylor all the time and in other groups that Ken plays in, he plays that way too. I may not have mentioned this before, but when I am playing, I am so involved in the playing and listening, that I really am not sure if it sounds good or not. I go by feedback; comments from friends and the audience reaction. Sometimes we tape it and I find out later. Apparently it went very well.
One of the highlights of the set was having saxophonist Joe Giardullo sit in on the last piece. (Joe played the first set as a solo) What a pleasure playing with Joe. He plays with such joy and musicality that was both uplifting and infectous.
The 14th was also Deepop's birthday. Dee is a great drummer and the organizer of CB's Down Stairs Avant Music series. Dee, single-handedly, has kept the music alive and we all owe him a debt of gratitude.
One of the traditions my wife, Carol, created is something called the 'Birthday Bagel'. Three thinly sliced bagels with cream cheese between the slices and globs of cream cheese on top with birthday candles in each glob. I announced Dee's birthday, and Carol brought the lighted "Birthday Bagel' up to the stage and we all sang "Happy Birthday" to Dee.
It truly was a unique way to end a unique night of music.
January 21-24th The IAJE Conference (International Association for Jazz Educators). This was the first one we ever attended. There was so much to see and do that at times my wife, Carol, and I found it overwhelming!
The first day is basically sign-up day. After that you can just hang out or leave. We opted to leave...but not before running into guitar great & friend, Rodney Jones, legendary bassist, Bob Cranshaw (who I played with 30 years ago) and having drinks with Bret Primack, our Webmaster, who was promoting his new book, "How to Make It Big In The New Music Biz" and was sharing a booth with Dr. Billy Taylor. Bret was also there to preside over a panel on Friday, "Has the Internet Helped Jazz" On the panel was Mike Ricci from All About Jazz, Leni Stern and Ben Allison (this was an excellent panel; we learned a lot. And although we've known each other through the internet and emails, it was great meeting Mike Ricci and Ben Allison in person).
Ran into Dr. Stanley Cowell who is head of the jazz program at Rutgers and a great pianist in his own right. We caught some of Mike Richmond's (bassist supreme) NYU Ensemble...it was good to see Mike again...he was at our recent Christmas party. Ran into many old friends, and another slew of great musicians: bassist Rick Petrone and drummer Joey Corsello, who I hadn't seen since the mid-sixties. They were there with guitarist Richie Hart doing a workshop on guitarist, Wes Montgomery. We met guitarist Doug Monroe and bassist Todd Coolman, who is the head of the jazz program at SUNY Purchase and former president of IAJE.
We ended the night catching up with Pat Martino, after his first set at the Iridium....great guy as well as great musician. It is nice to see that Pat is healthy and happy. I can sum up Thursday by saying, "there seems to be a lot of guitar & bass players on this earth!"
Thursday, January 29 WKCR live one-hour interview with Ted Panken, who is an incredibly knowledgeable and a really nice guy. You'd be surprised how fast an hour can fly by on the radio, especially when your conversations are interspersed with cuts from your CD's. Ted came fully prepared. He had all my recordings from the last 4 years, including Finishing Touches on CIMP. We talked as much as we could about my younger days, my influences, my approach to music and even about the kind of guitar I used. Ted surprised me by playing I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good from Takin' The Duke Out. We both enjoyed ourselves and I'm looking forward to the next time.
Tuesday, February 3rd The premier performance and celebration of the release of Time Will Tell at Tonic with Tomas Ulrich-cello, Ken Filiano-bass, John Bollinger-drums and vocalist Carol Mennie. This was the 3rd CD release party since we began CDM Records and I have to say that this one may have been the best. The club was so full that they ran out of chairs. For those who don't know, it was only a few short years ago that I and my colleagues would sometimes play for 5 people. So to say the club "ran out of chairs" is not only amazing, it is rewarding and I am grateful knowing we finally have an audience! Not only do we have an audience but one that is enthusiastic, attentive and supportive.
And that folks is all I'm going to say about that!
October 20th-27th Spent the whole week composing for Franka Fiala's new play Living In Virtual Paradise . You wouldn't believe how long it takes to write 87 seconds of music that has to sound like a Wagnerian Opera. I wrote music for 4 scenes including a scene where I wrote 3 vocal songs. (Surprise! Surprise! I can write songs, music and lyrics too!)
Sunday Nov 2nd (CBGB's) My trio with Francois Grillot (bass) and Jackson Krall (drums)... I'm truly happy Deepop gave us this date. It was great preparation for Ann Arbor, MI and Erie, PA. CBGB'S is a great space to play in. The audience is usually composed of jazz buffs, friends and musicians. They listen and lend support to the players.
Then, my worst nightmare came true on the first tune. I started the vamp for All The Things You Are , began the improv and just got into the tune when my 4th string broke! I had a choice to either keep on playing or stop. I decided to keep going, so I did a 5-string solo for 3 choruses and gave Francois & Jackson long solos. Without leaving the bandstand, I pointed to a member of the audience to bring me my guitar case, where my extra strings were stashed...within three minutes I put a new string on the guitar, tuned it and began to play again, all at a mind-boggling tempo. Hopefully that won't happen again! Some of the audience said I should keep that routine in the act....Yeah, Right!
Friday Nov 7th (The Canterbury House, Ann Arbor, Michigan) There is nothing like spending 3 days riding in a Van and getting to know someone. I personally think that at the end of a trip you either love them or hate them. I am happy to report I love these guys. Because Francois was working Thursday night, we got on the road at midnight which was great because it gave me a chance to be at the theater opening night. I loved watching Carol interpret the original songs I wrote for her (& the other cast members too) I even managed to stay for part of the cast party...the theatre was SRO and everyone was in terrific mood. Shortly after loading the van and on our way, the radio reception for WBGO ran out, we turned off the radio and talked and talked and talked. We talked about everything from music to musicians to my favorite subject, UFO's.
I drove the first few hours, then Francois, and for the last route of the trip Jackson took over. Because we were a little early to check into the hotel, Jackson suggested we go to this small Island named Kazill where he spent time as a boy visiting his Grandfather. As we drove around Jackson related wonderful childhood stories. Jackson, besides being a great drummer, is a great story teller. He has a wonderful knack of giving you all the nuances, so you feel as though you were right there with him. The Island is very beautiful with some amazing houses located on the shore line. After seeing the sights and stopping at a local eatery for lunch, Jackson proceeded to find some people who could help him catch-up to the last twenty years of the Islands history. Enough time had passed so we were off to the hotel to rest then proceed to the Canterbury House for the concert. I usually go on about the music, but if you have read my newsletter before you know how happy I am with this trio. As usual, Jackson and Francois met the task with flying colors which only helps me zoom through the stratosphere with gusto and ease ( pretty fancy uh? ). Michael Herbst (reeds) was our host and it was great to see him again and to meet Detroits WHFR-FM, DJ Terence Tyson.
Saturday Nov 8th (Erie Art Museum, Erie PA.) We got to Erie with just enough time to check in to the hotel, rest for an hour, then on to a 6 o'clock sound check where sound man Joe Popp was waiting. What a great space to play in. All white brick with enough chairs to hold at least 100 people. At 7:30 I had an impromtu question and answer/ lecture on my composing with members of the audience. I talked about how I composed some of the tunes we were going to play that night and I answered questions on who were my favorite instrumentalists and what I listen to.
Sunday Nov 9th Back on the road for the long drive back to NYC. Dropped off Jackson at 5PM . Drove around the block just in time to pick up my wife as she was coming out of the theater...talk about timing. The end of a perfect weekend!
August 24 (Thom & Lorry Gambino's anniversary party) now you might say what does that have to do with anything? Well, Thom is one of the finest saxophonist/ musicians/arrangers I know. Thom and Lorry have been great friends for over 25 years. I watched their children grow up, get married and have children of their own. I've been part of their family as much as anyone could be and when I met Carol, my wife, she was brought into the fold as well. I met Thom just before my Blue Note days. Thom had started Sunrise Artistries Publishing Company and I needed a publisher for my book Musicians Manual for Chord Substitution and he has published all my books since. Thom and I became instant friends. We played together in various situations and when one of the guitarists from his big band (Umano Orchestra) left, Thom asked me to come in. I stopped playing in big bands years before, only because I found it boring. Not that big band music is boring, but most big bands have guitar players playing rhythm all night a la Freddie Greene style which is OK if that's what you want to do. But I needed and wanted something more challenging. The Umano Orchestra provided that challenge. Thom wrote very difficult guitar parts and it was definitely a challenge and fun. Unfortunately because of severe dental problems Thom wasn't able to play for a number of years, but through the miracle of modern dentistry Thom is starting to play again and in the near future will start rehearsing the band again. BTW...Thom did the art work for the insert under the CD for Takin' The Duke Out.
August 28th (The Uptown, Kingston, NY with Michael Jefry Stevens) What a fun night this was. Michael and I decided that we would play a variety of music. Free-Form, original compositions and some standards. This was the first time we played together since 1996, when I was invited to play on the Elements CD with Michael on piano, saxophonist, Mark Whitecage, bassist, Dominic Duval and Jay Rosen on drums. I guess you can say this was my comeback into recording again. Michael is an incredible musician. Not only is he a great pianist, but a great composer as well. It was amazing to hear the growth in our playing since then. It was nice to see some old and new friends in the audience like David Arner, Harvey Sorgen, Jay Clayton, Bob Shout, Richard, Vindora and Mark Wixom along with Pete Yellin, who I haven't seen since we played at the West End Cafe in the 80's! At one point about seven years ago Michael and I decided we would record a duo CD, but because of our busy schedules it never happened. And most recently, Michael married and moved to Memphis, but fortunately he's back to my neck of the woods often. After having such a great time playing together we are finally going to record in October. This is an exciting project for us. We are both looking forward to this. Look for the next newsletter and I'll let you know how it goes.
September 6th (Evergreen, Fleischmans, NY) with Johnny Asia-Acoustic, 12 string & electric guitars, Gus Mancini-electric saxophone and myself on my archtop guitar. Weird combination..right? No! It actually worked out very well. Johnny is a master guitarist, and he has developed a technique that is not only difficult to master, but his music is incumbent on that technique. The energy is super high and you constantly have to listen or you can get hit between the eyes with subtle surprises. Gus and Johnny have been playing together for a while and they created some wonderful soundscapes. My challenge was to sound like I fit in. From the audience response it seemed we satisfied everyone. At one point in the night we all played solo. Johnny played an original piece of his that was not only exciting, but it exemplified his musicianship. Gus played an electrified "out" version of Harlem Nocturne, that had people walking up to the stage to see where all those sounds were coming from. Because some of the audience came down to hear straight ahead music and were surprised at what they heard, I decided to play the standard, What's New and give it my inside-out interpretation. With this I was able to satisfy my own artistic integrety and still give some of the audience what they wanted .
What's New: I'm in the process of rehearsing with Francois Grillot (bassist) for upcoming gigs at CB's and going on the road in November. Poor Francois, not only are there all the arrangements from the last three CDs, but he has to learn all the original music too. It's a big undertaking. but Francois is such a good musician and such a delight to play with, this is not a problem. My biggest worry was trying to get a sub for Ken Filiano, my regular bassist, but Francois has filled Kens shoes nicely....by the way CONGRATS to Ken & Andrea on their recent marriage!
Sunday, April 28, 2003 The CBGB'S gig was filled with surprises! Bassist Mark Dresser fit right in and sounded great and the club was packed for our 8 PM set. A couple of surprise results from that performance are: Journalist Charles Walker (jazz review .com) really dug it; Playwright, Franka Fiala asked me to collaborate with her on her current NY project opening June of this year (more on that later); Drummer, George Schuller (Gunther's son) stopped in for a listen; and, Deepop, the series director, has booked the trio for July 19th opposite Dave Douglas...that should be an exciting night.
Wednesday, May 15th CBGB'S had a terrific crowd for the Minasi /Siwula Duo at the 7 PM set. Blaise was in great form and our energy was high. This is the kind of duo that doesn't have to warm up, we start high and go higher. It was all original music...half written by me, the other half by Blaise. Laurence Donohue-Greene from All About Jazz-NY was there and he really dug the Duo. Had a chance to finally meet Roy Campbell...nice guy, great player. Hopefully in the next few months Blaise and I will have a new CD out. Looking forward to Saturday's gig with Blaise & drummer, Jeff Arnal. It should be lots of fun playing totally free.
Saturday, May 18th Blaise Siwula (sax), Jeff Arnal (drums) and myself on guitar ripped from the very first note at the Brecht Forum. Blaise and I, still coming off of a high from Wednesday night, started off with blistering clusters and Jeff fell right into the "groove." You have to listen to each other if you want to play free-form music and not have it sound like noise. It was apparent that the three of us were on the same track and there was some very exiting and interesting moments. Blaise and I come from a traditional jazz background, so whether we are playing quarter tones, clusters or dissonance's we always make music and it is always Jazz.
Monday, June 10 My latest recording session, "Goin Out Again" with Jackson & Ken, really sailed... once we got our sound levels, we were off! Jackson and Ken were in top form. The energy was high. We were able to get the same feel we get in a club or a concert, but without the audience. This was not easy music to play and in order to get the separation we needed for a good mix Tom had us 'partitioned-off' and we used headphones. Tom Mc Grath (Tom Tom Studios) is a great engineer to work with. I have worked with Tom before and it has always been a pleasure. "Goin' Out Again" is set for Sept/Oct release.
Tuesday, June 11th "What Lies Beneath" by Franka Fiala. What a night! I showed up at 5PM for a pre-show rehearsal. The first thing Franka did was put glow-paint on my fingers so they would glow in the dark during the blackouts between scenes; later friends told me, it looked like a pair of skeleton hands were moving in the dark. The play lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes. It went by very fast. The free-form duets with vocalist, Benjamin Marcantoni, were lots of fun. Carol was in great form and she tackled her part with her usual gusto and owned it. This was the first time we were both on stage together, other than a music performance. If you ask me, I couldn't tell you precisely what the play was about...it was improvised, and centers on a group of NY characters whose lives are a mess, performed in 5 parts. Franka is a true innovator!
Saturday, June 15th Tom McGrath did the mix today. I was a little worried about the guitar sound I was getting when when we recorded on Monday, but when I got there, Tom had already fixed it to the way I like it. Once that was in place, everything moved right along. The CD is titled "Goin' Out Again" and is fifty eight minutes long. We recorded 4 standards and 4 originals, three of which I wanted to record in 1975 on my second album for Blue Note, but Blue Note wanted to go in another direction. Within the next few weeks you will be able to hear one of the cuts here on the site. I will keep you informed.
Tuesday, June 18th The Parkinson's Unity Walk gave a reception at City Hall as a 'thank-you' to all those who volunteered their services. Because of added security checks, Carol and I arrived around 6:30 p.m. Wine and hors d'oeuvres were being served. At 7:15 Martin Tuchman, Chairman, welcomed us all and reported on the financial success of the event, and Ken Aidekman, Co-Founder & Former Chair, gave the closing remarks. It was all very moving. Lots of photos were taken, then Carol and I headed for the Blue Note where we caught Pat Martino's first set. He sounded great. Later in the dressing room, Pat and I caught up. All in all, it was a wonderful night.
Friday, June 28th (The Old Office at the Knitting Factory) After coming off of a week of rehearsing and recording, the trio burned from the very first note! It was so intense that one of the audience members said we looked like we were levitating. We played songs from all my previous recordings and three tunes from the newest one. Can't wait for the CBGB'S gig, to see what happens that night. Looking forward to hearing Dave Douglas.
July 17th (CBGB's Downstairs Lounge) What a great night! Standing room only and nearly every important New York jazz journalist was there. The reception to my trio was overwhelming. We went right for the jugular, in-your-face, high energy blowing. We started at warp nine and continued upward. It was wonderful meeting many of the journalists who have written about me and the trio. Jackson and Ken were in top form and when Ken was featured on "The Day After Next" you could hear a pin drop.. Dave Douglas and Roy Campbell came on for the next set... they played for an hour non stop...all in all, it was musically an extraordinary night! Check out David Adlers' Review in All About Jazz NY.
July 22nd (WFMU Radio) My interview with Irene Trudel was a lot of fun. She was very gracious and asked me to bring my guitar to the studio. We not only talked about the upcoming gigs but also "Takin' The Duke Out" and the new October release, "Goin' Out Again". Irene played cuts from both CDs. I played an original piece "Trane's Lament," a solo interpretation of "Satin Doll" ....and when Irene requested a Monk tune, I was happy to oblige, and played "Round Midnight". Hope to do it again, soon.
July 24th (WKCR) Radio jock, Mike Heller, asked some very interesting questions concerning the old days at Blue Note. I found myself speaking quite a bit but it was a lot of fun. Of course he played tracks from "Takin' The Duke Out" and one cut from "Goin' Out Again". WKCR has been very generous with radio play for my CDs as have many of the other radio stations across the US and Europe. For this I am truly grateful.
July 25 (Tonic) It's always a pleasure to have Mark Dresser in the Trio. Again the energy was high. We played to a packed house and the audience response was overwhelming. This is the first time I ever heard people yelling 'Bravo'. A little side note: three guys actually showed up for the sound check...they read about the group and wanted to hear us on their way to Central Park to hear Dave Brubeck...if they didn't have to meet friends, they would have stayed...they will definitely be at CB's for the October release party.
July 30th (Triad) Another rip-roaring night. Alto saxist Blaise Siwula was in rare form. He came out slugging. Jeff Arnal is a great drummer. His interpretive style and his complimentary drumming is something very rarely heard in drummers these days. I have never played with bassist Adam Lane. He is a wonderful player. He knew what, where and when to play. I hope this will be the beginning of many more gigs together.
Sept 18 (ABC No Rio, Meet the Composer Concer) with Blaise Siwula - sax, Peter Kowald - Bass, Jeff Arnal - drums and myself on guitar. I've waited almost a month to write about this concert, only because I wasn't sure what to say and I am still overwhelmed by the event that transpired after the performance.
August/September The last time I left off by telling everyone how we would be using this time to finish off some of my recording projects...well none of that happened. I was was side-tracked with a little thing called a quadruple by-pass surgery, and as I write this, I am still recuperating from the surgery.
Sunday October 13 (Downtown Music Gallery) Arrived around 6:30 PM. Bruce Gallenter, the owner was there and bassist Ed Schuller had just arrived. It was another one of those Indian-Summer-Hot October nights. I was more concerned about the heat than about the playing.
Sunday, October 20 (CBGB'S Downstairs Music Lounge - the CD Release Press Party and Concert) What a night! It was exactly 2 months since my surgery. Again my biggest concern was to be able to get the same energy going as I had on the CD . I am happy to report that I did. The audience was wonderful. The club was full...when I say full, I mean every seat in the front gallery to all the seats on the side and the whole bar. Some of my dearest and closet friends were there, like Mitchell May and Thom & Lorry Gambino. To my surprise my 2 kids Dom & Maryanne showed up. My cardiologist, Dr. Barnard, and journalists Bill Milkowski and Laurence Donohue- Greene, whose support have enormously helped my career. Irene Trudel from WFMU was in the audience too.
Sunday December 29th (CBGB'S Downstairs Lounge) I'm always surprised when we have a full house with standing room only, especially two days before New Year's Eve. My group can't take full credit for this. There were a lot of great players there. William Parker's group with Daniel Carter (sax & trumpet) and Deepop (drums). Another group with Lou Grassi (drums) with Francois Grilliot (bass). The music my trio plays can sometimes be hard on the senses because of the energy and dissonance, but thankfully, the audiences have been very receptive and applaud and cheer when the trio burns to climaxes. We did surprise everyone by playing an original straight ahead ballad The Color of Her Eyes Is Gray which has real harmonic changes and we played it in time and kept the dissonance to a minimum.
Tuesday, December 15th: Good friend and a great jazz pianist, Dennis
We did work some jazz gigs together as co-leaders of a quartet which
Eventually Dennis and I went our separate ways, but always stayed in
Saturday, November 23 (The Uptown, Kingston, N.Y.) This was the first time Carol and I have done a duo gig in a very long time and my first straight ahead gig since last April. When the opportunity came to work at the Uptown on another night, I thought this would be the perfect place for the two of us. The room is set up with theater seats so that you perform with your audience directly in front of you. We were able to get a good vocal sound from their system and a good balance between voice and guitar. The atmosphere was right and the audience, again, was respectful and appreciative.
February 16 (later that day: CBGB'S Downstairs Lounge - The Downtown Music Gallery Benefit) After playing that afternoon for Dennis's memorial, I was not in great mental shape, but when Bruce Galanter introduced William Hooker's group and they began to play, it just lifted me right up . What an exciting group! William on drums, Louie Belogenis on tenor sax, Lewis Barnes on trumpet, Mark Hennan on keyboard and Rueben Radding on acoustic bass. This group burned from the get-go. It was inspiring. My trio was up next. Bruce said some very nice things about us. I was energized from Williams group and when we began to play, I wouldn't let up. Of course Jackson and Ken came through like champs. It was one of those, "I think I lost 20 pounds from sweating" type-of-sets. The packed room was surprising as the biggest snowstorm of the season had begun just hours before we played. Next on the bill was William Parker's group, the legendary Other Dimensions in Music with Roy Campbell-trumpet, Daniel Carter -sax, William Parker -bass and Rashid Bakr-drums. Again another exciting and great set. What a thrill to be on the same bill as these great artists.
February 26 (The Old Office at the Knitting Factory) Again, a very cold Wednesday night. We had a small but 'hot' audience. Marc Greene from WUSB radio made that long drive from Long Island and was kind enough to bring a tape of our live interview last month. I wanted to do something a little different for this gig, so I decided that we would play a whole set of Jazz Waltzes. Boring you say? No, because each song had a totally different feel. We opened up with "Ode to Eric" from my CIMP recording, Finishing Touches . This tune is played so out that the melody is not played in time till the very end. "Dumpie" is a fast 6/8 with a oom-pah-pah feel that goes into a free form section with lots of interplay, featuring Jackson. "As The Spirit Moves" is dark and lends itself towards atonality while the folk song "Scarlet Ribbons" becomes a soulful, modal piece. For fun we played a tune I recorded in 1975 for Blue Note "With A Little Help From My Friends." I could see John Lennon rolling over in his grave! We ended the set with an exceptionally fast version of "Take The 'A' Train" featuring Ken. Again I can't say enough about how grateful I am to my family, friends, other musicians and especially to the love of my life, my wife Carol, for all their love and support. March is upon us and there are lots of birthday babies out there besides me..... Happy Birthday Chris Minasi, Tom Genovese, Jim Eigo, Dave Stryker, Marty Dunayer, Tony Lupo and to all those I don't know. And a special Happy Anniversary to Judith and Mitchell May.
January 25th Joe Giardullo's recording date at Oliveros Studio in Kingston, New York with Michael Snow and Larry Packer on violins, Jayna Nelson on flutes, David Arner on piano, Rich Rosenthal on guitar and Philip Gurrieri on little instruments. When Joe asked if I wanted to do this, how could I say no. Joe is such consummate musician, I knew it would be wonderful. This was lots of fun. Joe assembled a great bunch of musicians for some exciting and distinctive new music. This date was not about reading, but more about listening and making connections with the other musicians while coordinating the written music. No two musicians knew what notes the other ones would play, but we had to go on instinct and make music while incorporating a sense of rhythm, harmony, time and flow. When Joe dropped off a rough mix of the CD, it sounded as if we rehearsed for months. It had all the elements we were looking for, yet it sounded free, classical and very musical.
January 26th (WDST Radio from Bearsville NY) This was an open jam with guitarist Johnny Asia leading the way. Alto saxophonist Gus Mancini and stick bassist Studio Stu along with me were 'jammed' (ha! ha!) together in a small studio. We played two pieces that were about five minutes long. Johnny was very gracious inviting me to play and he made sure that my upcoming gig with Mark Whitecage was announced. Thanks Johnny!
January 30th (The Uptown , Kingston NY) Duo with Mark Whitecage...A friend asked me how did the gig with Mark go? I answered "Playing with someone like Mark Whitecage is the reason why I am a Jazz musician. How do you describe perfection in an instrumentalist. You can't. Mark can play anything...In, Out, In time, or Out of time. He is the ultimate improviser. I had a great time. Mark and I hadn't played together since 1997, but it felt like it was only a few days later. There are some things in life you can only describe as joyful. Working with Mark that night was incredibly joyful!
March 13th (Tonic) last minute gigs are always nice to get and playing Tonic was a lot of fun that night. My regular bassist, Ken Filiano wasn't available. I was fortunate to get Ed Schuller. Ed and I have worked together as a duo, but never in a trio setting. Ed is the kind of musician who can play and read anything and he was up for it that night. The surprise of the night was that Russell Malone was there. Russell is a great guitarist and a real gentlemen. It was great having him there. The previous group was Doug Wamble. Doug, also a guitarist, sang and played . Coming more from a southern blues point of view, his music was different and I really enjoyed listening to him perform.
March 30th (The Rhythm Room, Phoenix) This kicked off an 8-day Southwest Tour. Al Singer was terrific to work for. He was truly knowledgeable and enthusiastic. He graciously invited us back anytime we come that way again. Both Carol and I look forward to working with him again.
Did I fail to mention, we drove. Did I hear someone say "why?" We drove because all our friends told us that it would be crazy to fly during the war. So we left on Tuesday, March 25th and arrived in Phoenix on Saturday morning, March 29th. We took the shorter route, 80 to 81 to 40, and finally 17 to Phoenix. We live in an incredibly big and beautiful country ..it's a shame we had to rush, because there were so many places we wanted to visit...like Graceland. and of course we missed the largest crucifix in the world, but you can't see everything. Also, we only had time to speak to Michael Jefrey Stevens, good friend & great jazz pianist, as we drove thru Memphis with no time to stop if we were were to get to our Phoenix gig in time. The 10 blocks from the Hotel to the gig were really beautiful and Phoenix looked like a nice town as we drove to and out of it...hopefully, we will get to see it the next time we're there!!
April 5th the Afro (Cuban Festival, Tucson) This was an outdoor concert and I had an early performance (12 PM ) with Mary Redhouse, a Navaho Indian who mixes "out singing" with American Indian Folk Music. This was quite an experience. We performed for about one hour and although the sun was extremely hot, there was a nice crowd and they were very receptive to what we were doing. Also on the same bill was Oliver Lake with his electric steel band. Oliver put together a great group. The music was exciting and strong and Oliver played his...off!
April 6th (Breast Cancer Walk, Armory Park, Tucson) Carol and I performed before and after the walk (similar to Central Park last year). But, unlike Central Park we didn't have our Septet, this was a duo gig.. and they had the largest turnout for this kind of event to-date. We were honored to be part of it. That night my oldest friend (from 1 month old to the present), Frank Montella, drove in from LA to have dinner with us. What a great way to cap off the week!
April 7th - April 20th (Easter - Tucson to NYC) we took the long way home, stopping at Roswell, New Mexico (UFO territory, famous for Aliens and abductions) unfortunately none this happened to us, but we did see the UFO Museum. Then on to Ozona, Texas where there was a statue of Davy Crockett and a Museum. Wow!
May 31st (The Uptown) with Carol Mennie - vocals, Dom Minasi - guitar, Tomas Ulrich - cello, Cameron Brown - bass and John Bollinger - drums. This is an extended version of DDT (guitar, cello & bass) with the addition of drums and a vocalist. It's always fun working at the Uptown. Gary & Marilyn have been great hosts to all the different groups I bring in. DDT is one of my favorite groups, not only because of the musicianship, but I have a chance to expand on my arranging and compositional chops. I love working with Tomas and John and having Cameron Brown, Ken Filiano's replacement on bass (I use to see Cameron at the Vanguard with Don Pullen/George Adams group )...what a thrill that was...and playing with him...Carol as usual brought her special singing quality to the group that just lifted us to another place (you see folks, don't believe everything you hear..I can play straight ahead when I want and have been known to enjoy it too). Musically it was a good night and enjoyed by all.
June 2nd (Tonic) with my regular trio, Ken Filiano and Jackson Krall. Tonic is a great space to play. People who come there know they will be hearing music that challenges them and the musicians. It was nice to see Bill Milkowski in the audience. Believe or not, I wanted to start breaking in new music for the 4th CD. You say what happened to the 3rd? Started doing that at the Uptown with DDT. The 3rd CD is called Time Will Tell - Dom Minasi's DDT + 2, scheduled to be released in January 2004. I like to prepare ahead. This night we performed two new pieces. With every new gig I like to add new music to the repertoire. I do this so our audience hears something new and unexpected every time they see us. It also keeps us (trio) fresh so we won't be bored playing the same music all the time. By the time we get into the studio to record, we know the music!
June 13 (ABC No Rio Benefit Concert with Blaise Siwula) Blaise and I were scheduled to go on at 8PM. Got there a little early. Let me tell you folks, you've never seen or heard anything like this. There were three floors of non-stop music. Each floor had at least two spaces going, and the first floor had an outside garden. Whatever your taste in music is, you would have been able to find it. Blaise and I have been playing together since 1997. Usually as a duo we play original music with free-form improvising. But lately we have discarded the written music and have been playing totally free-form. It's always fun for me to play with Blaise. He's such an innovative player that it keeps me constantly on my toes (also a good way to loose weight...it's gets very hot playing with that kind of energy, I sweat off at least 2-3lbs).
July 20th (CBGB'S) the trio with Jackson Krall and Francois Grillot replacing Ken on bass. I have to be the luckiest guitarist in the world. Not only do I get a chance to use and play with Jackson Krall (Cecil's drummer), I've had the fortune to play with the best bass players in the world. In the last year in a half the I've had Ken Filiano, Mark Dresser, Mike Richmond, Ed Schuller, Cameron Brown and now for this gig, Francois Grillot. Francois played brilliantly. We did rehearse the day before. I wanted him to be familiar with the arrangements and also to be prepared for the unexpected, which happens with every gig. A rehearsal is one thing and a gig is another. Jackson and I play one way in a rehearsal, but we explode on a gig. And Francois exploded along with us. You can't ask for more in a musician. For a hot July night, we had a great crowd.
July 26th (Workshop at the Uptown in Kingston, NY) This was lots of fun. I had four members of the Hudson Valley Youth Jazz Orchestra, Jon Notar - piano, Mark Wixom - bass, Alex Ritz - drums on stage along with their vocalist, Laura Simpson. I brought in some original music and we worked on playing and improvising and arranging the music. We worked on how to play for a singer and what a vocalist should know and expect when she gets on stage to sing with a jazz group. Using the chart on The Day After Next (from Going Out Again) we worked on creating soundscapes and collective improvising. These teens could play. It they are an example of what we have to look forward to, then jazz has a great a future.
What have I been doing between gigs?