Dom Minasi's The Vampire's Revenge
is not just a record, it's an event. 22 of New York's craftiest improvisers, scattered over groupings varying in size from two to thirteen musicians, perform ten of Minasi's adventurous and well-wrought compositions. Sometimes, as on "The Seduction" a short, returning motif alternates with free improv sections. More often, improvised and through-composed counterpoint coexist alongside each other, either peacefully, as on "Who's Your Dentist," or more belligerently in good old Mingus fashion, as on "The Transformation." Propulsive urgency happens by the greasy oompha of "The First Thing," or as on the title piece, by Byron Olsen's determined conducting hand.
The Vampire's Revenge is the album Eric Dolphy might have come up with if he hadn't died prematurely. This double CD is one of those rare releases that, to quote one of our more eminent jazz writers, embody the past, present and future of jazz.
Minasi made The Vampire's Revenge as a celebration of musicianship. The crème de la crème of the downtown scene was invited, and those players' contributions are essential to making this such a vibrant and rich record. Minasi himself plays his guitar as good as ever, but the focus for this project rests on Minasi the composer and musical director. There is something very Charles Ives-like to the music on The Vampire's Revenge. Its charm lies in its revelation of a deeply romantic soul hidden under a pioneer's bravado, and great joy in a seamless combination of "low culture and "high art. From Ives to Dolphy, with strains of Mingus, and Edgar Varèse, this is America's classical music, if there ever was one.
Inspired by Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles, the material has a lighthearted, delightfully offbeat touch, as on Carol Mennie's superb vocal on "Just One More Bite," a specimen of that venerable American musical tradition which again found its origin with Charles Ives and has been defined by Frank Zappa as "Does Humor Belong In Music?
This is two hours of delightful music with a lust for life, rather than blood. It is Pulitzer Prize material, and most likely album of the year. That a CD of this scope and excellence was made as an independent projectwithout any backing whatsoever by a record companymakes The Vampire's Revenge an all the more triumphant and astonishing achievement, and an inspiration to musicians everywhere.
Personnel: Dom Minasi: guitar; Ken Filiano: bass; Jackson Krall: drums; Perry Robinson: clarinet; Joe
Giardullo: Soprano sax; Jason Kao Hwang: violin; Tomas Ulrich: cello; Carol Mennie: voice;
John Gunther: reeds; Herb Robertson: trumpet; Steve Swell: trombone; Francois Grillot: bass;
Ras Moshe: reeds; Matthew Shipp: piano; Mark Whitecage: alto sax; Borah Bergman: piano;
Joe McPhee: tenor sax; Paul Smoker: flugelhorn; Sabir Mateen: tenor sax; Blase Siwula: alto
sax; Peter Ratray: recitative; Byron Olson: conductor