Dom Minasi’s latest album, Quick Response, proves once again that a typical guitar in the hands of Minasi is anything but typical. It becomes a kaleidoscope of boisterous sounds, resonant textures, warm colors, and individual interpretation that brings to the forefront the freedom to create inspired landscapes of musical expression outside the boundaries of convention.
This is what drives Minasi to greater musical heights and like all his other work (“Takin’ The Duke Out”, “Goin’ Out Again”, and “Time Will Tell” to name but a few) Quick Response is no exception.
This time round Minasi revives one of the more popular formats of traditional jazz, the organ trio (or in this case quartet) in a set of nine tunes (three standards and six original compositions) that showcase Minasi’s inspired guitar chops and gifted writing and arranging skills.
Backed by three superb musicians (Kyle Koehler on organ, John Bollinger on drums, and Mark Whitecage on alto sax), Minasi is free to indulge in sonic splendor as he burns up the fret-board with some great incendiary guitar playing. This is a guitarist unfettered by musical rote or expectation. You just gotta check out his inventive rewriting of the old standards “What Is This Thing Called Love” and “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise” for a glimpse into the uncompromising mind that is Minasi. Or his own up-tempo compositions “Dizzy Lizzie”, “Quick Response”, “Feels Like Rain In China”, the Latin-esque “Into The Night”…actually just check out every tune on the CD to hear Minasi’s unique approach to the melodic line and harmonic form. Wonderful tunes and hot playing indeed.
And in case you were wondering, there is also a warm, sensitive side to Minasi that shines through on the standard “I Who Have Nothing” as well as on Minasi’s own “When Your Dreams Come True” and the heartfelt “For My Father”. His warm tone and sensitivity abounds as he plays “inside” the changes with a feel and soulfulness that communicates his emotions fully.
Actually, communication is what this CD is all about. Whether it be the communicating Minasi does with the listening audience through his compositions, or the communicating that goes on between the performing members vis-a-vis their group interplay, each tune conveys a musical vision that Minasi wishes to set forth. And everyone carries that vision to completion. Koehler, Bollinger and Whitecage provide unyielding support and get a lot of opportunities to breathe their own distinctiveness into Minasi’s music, and thankfully he lets them.
Am I surprised then that a modern guitar player situated in the free-form stylings of Jazz can come up with beautiful tunes and wonderful performances? Nah! As I have experienced from listening to Minasi’s other CD’s (mentioned above) this is par for the course and is what sets him apart from the mainstream. Minasi doesn’t use that distance as an excuse to play chaotic, incoherent music that can only be accepted by the few. Rather, he creates and rejuvenates music that binds the traditional with the now, allowing the seasoned listener and the novice to experience the purity of the music, which is exactly what he does on Quick Response.
So if you are a serious jazz guitar fan or you are seeking to venture into new musical territory, then check out Quick Response. You will soon realize that it’s no wonder Jim Hall says that Dom Minasi is “One of New York’s’ best kept secrets [who] is finally ‘getting out.’” Let’s hope he stays “out”.