Dom Minasi: A Matter of Time
So he did, marking the first step toward where he is now. "I started to get some really nice reviews. It put me back on the map. I started to get a very funny feeling, so I said, 'Let's bring in our own people and start our own record company and let's do it." Six months later he was booked for a gig at NYC's Knitting Factory. He decided to record and release the material from the performance. "Whatever was there was there. We didn't edit anything. And I said this would be it. This would be the end of my recording career forever."
"You have to give it up in order to get it," he says with an air of sententiousness. "I wrote, played practiced and taught, and the minute I said I'm not interested in being a star ... that's when these things started to happen."
Now that CDM Records has more or less established itself on its founder's strength, Miansi has mental flip chart diagramming where intends to go from here. Foremost, he means for the label to form a sort of jazz collective, rotating musicians on and off one another's albums, sometimes leading, sometimes supporting, but always under the CDM umbrella. He also anticipates that the freedom from dependency on a major label will enable him to genre-hop, moving from 'in' and 'out' jazz music to traditional vocals, and perhaps even neo-classical. "I do everything. And I've got a plan. I'm 60 years old and I've got to get this plan going."
This is why such high hopes have been pinned to Time Will Tel l. It has the potential to be an extraordinary landmark in CDM's history and Minasi's ambitious scheme. Because of the album's greater accessibility especially in comparison to Takin' the Duke Out and Goin' Out Again it could draw more traditional, "tonal" (or "in," as Minasi might say) listeners to the CDM catalogue and the ideas behind it. "It might lead them down the path to the other stuff," he says. "My wife is a very tonal person. It took her years to start to get it."
Nevertheless it may also have its drawbacks. "All the out guys are gonna put me down. And all the in guys are gonna put me down. I can't win," Minasi grumbles in mock exasperation. "The thing with New York is, you get kinda like boxed in. You play out, and you're an out player." When he shopped some earlier DDT material around to record companies, he ran headfirst into the apprehension caused by deviating from his assigned category. "They just would always say, 'Where's the drums? What is this? This is, like, chamber music.'" He cites saxophonist Joe Lovano as someone who's managed to skirt pigeonholes, jumping as nimbly as he does from Sinatra to opera interpretations and then on to Latin jazz with bassist Charlie Haden. What matters to Minasi is tapping into every compositional urge. If it happens to be commercially successful, he considers it a pleasant bonus.
"I needed to reinforce that I can do that. They were putting down Jimmy Bruno. He said, 'It's my speed that got me signed to Concord. It's just that I have to play fast to play what I want to play.' People were taken aback by the speed I have. When I play live, it's like a bomb went off: people with their mouths open and their hair up in the air. It made them take notice. So now I can slow down. I had to learn how to cool it a little."
"I'm just trying to expand on everything I do," he continues. "I have charts on an organ trio. I have charts on a quartet and quintet that I haven't done yet. I have, like, 50 arrangements with guitar, bass, cello, drums. Now that I have my own label, I'm going to be putting out an album every year - or two, one for my wife and one for me. The next thing will be my wife. That's why I wanted to put her on this record and introduce her voice to the audience. We've been working together for 12, 13 years. I have more music for her than I have for the group."
His voice swells with a rush of excitement. "I already wrote the music for the next one, which is going to be further out than anything I've done. Around September we're going to release an all-vocal album with four or five original tunes" on top of "a trio thing which is out there, but then I'm going back with Carol and putting out something really accessible." All this preparation for future projects is taking place as Minasi launches Time Will Tell , lays the groundwork for U.S. and European tours in support of the album, and finishes an essay entitled Rules of Engagement? No. Why Not Rules of Harmony? .
"The American people have accepted rock 'n' roll, but they really haven't accepted jazz," he reflects toward the close of the interview. If Minasi has his way, he'll write, perform, record and distribute the music that will realize that acceptance. It's only a matter of time.
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