The modern mainstream is served righteously with Dom Minasi’s latest album, which features his chamber jazz quartet interpreting six originals and two integral standards. Combining elements of free jazz with straight-ahead luxury, the quartet sparkles with its melding of fresh, new ideas and familiar melodies.
Minasi writes from a straight-ahead jazz experience. That’s his starting point. Then he turns it loose. “DMP,” for example, is based on “All Blues.” And the familiar melody makes you feel right at home. Minasi’s searing guitar turns the piece inside out, as he leads the way. Ken Filiano, Tomas Ulrich and John Bollinger also release all restraints as they soar with this one.
Homages to Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy follow, delivered with a passion that belies the guitarist’s true feelings. Once that feeling is in you, it grows. His fluid phrasing and lyrical technique build a strong foundation. Like the jazz masters that Minasi honors, his music carries with it a strong sense of power and emotion.
The session ends with a soulful collaboration on “’Round Midnight.” The ensemble’s instrumentation lends itself to this gentler kind of mood. Cello, guitar, and bass keep things under control and flowing smoothly. Carol Mennie’s authoritative alto voice gives the room a subtle tinge of smoke and dimmed lights.
Throughout the program, both Ulrich and Filiano match the leader’s ferocity as soloists. The very nature of their stringed instruments, however, ensures that this session has no sharp edges. It’s a pleasant session based on true jazz standards.
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Personnel: Dom Minasi- guitar; Tomas Ulrich- cello; Ken Filiano- bass; John Bollinger- drums; Carol Mennie- vocal on