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Take Five With Dom Minasi

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Meet Dom Minasi: I have been playing guitar for over 50 years When I was 18 years old I began teaching and working as a full-time musician.

In 1974, I was signed to Blue Note Records. After two albums I left the recording business with a sour taste in my mouth and did not record again as a leader till 1999 for CIMP Records. I have played and worked and performed with a whole slew of jazz giants including Arnie Lawrence, George Coleman, Frank Foster and Harry Sheppard, to mention a few.

After recording, Finishing Touches (CIMP 1999) and Dialing Privileges (CIMP, 1999) as co-leader with Blaise Siwula, my wife, Carol Mennie, and I formed CDM Records. I put together a new trio with Ken Filiano on bass and Jackson Krall on drums and on April 23rd, 2001 we recorded Takin' The Duke Out live at the Knitting Factory. It was released in October, 2001.

To my astonishment, Takin' The Duke Out met with glowing reviews. Of course there were some die-hard Duke fans who absolutely hated it, but that was expected. Since then we released Goin' Out Again and Time Will Tell, which is a definite departure from my last two CDs.

In 2004, CDM Records released two more CDs, Quick Response and Carol Mennies Im Not A Sometime Thing. In March, 2006 we released The Vampires Revenge, a double-disc set of almost two hours of through-composed music with lots of room for improv. The Vampires Revenge has been selected as one of the best of 2006 by many renowned jazz journalists. Most recently, I have been composing 21st Century classical music and have devoted much of my time towards that effort.

Instrument: guitar.

Teachers and/or influences? Influences: John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I was seven years old.

Your sound and approach to music: A wall of sound that at times can be dissonant.

Your teaching approach: Keep yourself open to all the possibilities. If you're going to be a full-time musician educate yourself—either self-teach or study with a teacher. Learn to read, transpose, play and play in all styles.

Your dream band: I already have my dream band. Ken Filiano (bass) and Jackson Krall (drums). There are only a few other musicians I would like to work with. Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton and Peter Brotzmann.

Favorite venue: The Montreal Jazz Festival Contemporary Musuem.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? I have two. My latest, The Vampire's Revenge. This was double CD embodies everything I want music to have. The best and most inventive players, but it sill has a sense of organization. Takin' The Duke Out—my favorite way to dismember standards.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I am hoping that I can help guitarists look and hear music another way.

Did you know... I also like country music.

How you use the internet to help your career? When I was with Blue Note Records in the 70s I got one review and except for NYC and LA, very few people knew who I was. In 2001, with the launching of CDM Records and the help of internet whiz Bret Primack, and Jim Eigo at Jazz Promo Services, I get radio play, reviews and emails from around the world. My press kit is as thick as a phone book.

CDs you are listening to now: Sonny Rollins, Sonny Please (Doxy); Brian Groder, Torque (Latham Records).

Desert Island picks: Joe McPhee, Trio X (Cadence); Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Legacy); Johnny Smith, Moonlight In Vermont (Roost); Eric Dolphy, Out To Lunch (Blue Note).

How would you descibe the state of jazz today? Although jazz is probably more popular globally than it's ever been, I think there are lot of great musicians out there, but there are very few places for them to play or make a living.

I also think musicians are responsible for the way some of the economics are. They are so desperate to play, they play for nothing or for the door. This hasn't helped the situation.

I also think that unless we put all genres of jazz under one umbrella we will be working against one another instead of with one another.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? I was going to say buy CDs, but now it's download and pay for the artist you want to hear. Go out to the clubs and venues to hear the music. Hopefully to hear more and more jazz on TV.

What is in the near future? I have three CDs coming out this year as a sideman and co-leader. New York Moments (Konnex), The Jon Memmersam/Dom Minasi Quartet (CDM), and a record with Joe Giardullo that hasn't been named yet. I am working on a string collective with Ken Filiano, Jason Kao Hquang and Tomas Ulrich. Hopefully I will be recording with Borah Bergman this year and a new quartet.

By Day (if you have a day job): My day job is private teaching, writing/arranging for others and running CDM Records.

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