Dom Minasi: The Bird, The Girl, The Donkey (2011)
New York guitarist Dom Minasi has years of experience on the jazz scene as a player, writer, improviser and educator. The Bird, The Girl and The Donkey finds Minasi in the company of some other leading lights of the New York improvised music scene, on five extended pieces characterized by some adventurous interplay, some good-humored musical ideas, and a batch of great titles.
It's altoist Blaise Siwula whose presence is most obviously stamped upon the music: intense, stabbing, screeching sounds emanate from his saxophone with real energy. On "Sonia's Back, No, Really, Her Back" Siwula's intensity is almost overwhelming, until in the closing seconds he shifts into a few bars of bell-like New Orleans phrases. Ras Moshe's tenor sax is more relaxed and laid back but still as inventive: he's more likely to play longer, more complex passages than is Siwula, adding depth to the altoist's sonic attack. Drummer Jay Rosen is constantly busy, using his kit to the full to propel the music and encourage his fellow players.
For much of the album Minasi and bassist Albey Balgochian are to be found at the back of the mix, their contributions almost overwhelmed by the drums and saxophones. That's fine on one level, because Siwula, Moshe and Rosen are fascinating and exciting musicians. But Minasi and Balgochian are equally fascinatingconcentrating on their refreshingly selfless contributions reaps its own rewards.
Minasi's fat chordal washes and more delicate single note patterns underpin much of the music. When he does move to the front his guitar sound offers an immediate contrast to the saxophones. Minasi's fluid, gently metallic, guitar playing at the end of "Atmospheric Meeting" or half way through "Stop Ringing Those Damn Bells" is delightful.
The Bird, The Girl and The Donkey is released on Re:konstruKt, the Istanbul-based improvised music label which also released Siwula and Minasi's 2010 duet album Live At The Matt Bevel Institute. It's a wonderfully creative collection of pieces: intense, but never aggressive; complex, but still accessible; this is a great advertisement for improvised music.
Track Listing: Atmospheric Meeting; Stop Ringing Those Damn Bells; The Bird, The Girl and the Donkey; Hey Cowboy; Sonia's Back. No, Really, Her Back.
Personnel: Dom Minasi: guitar; Blaise Siwula: alto saxophone; Ras Moshe: tenor saxophone; Albey Balgochian: bass; Jay Rosen: drums.