Dom Minasi carries the aura of a rock star. (In metaphor only; no rock here.) For a guitarist steeped in the tradition as well as the avant-garde, this feature makes him special. It manifests itself in two main ways on Goin' Out Again: first, Minasi presents a decidedly iconoclastic vision. On last year's excellent Takin' The Duke Out, he expressed a fresh outlook on the tried-and-true jazz canon. And Minasi and his trio go after recognizably melodic tunes here with the same conscious desire to undermine and subvert their forms. On tunes like the opener, "Autumn Leaves," that means a direct and uncomplicated statement of the tune's theme, followed thereafter by a leap into the great beyond (energy music at a high level). On the four Minasi originals, composition integrates itself seamlessly into modern jazz reinvention.
The second way in which Minasi has adopted the rock guitarist's sensibility is in his approach to his instrument. While he has the versatility and virtuosity to coax mellow as well as energetic sounds from his instrument, he feels most at home charging into the abyss looking for catharsis. His guitar becomes an axe, and if there's a troublesome part of Goin' Out Again, this is it. Minasi seems like he's trying too hard some times: instead of relying on his talents to speak through understatement, he can blow a little too hard. Drummer Jackson Krall goes all the way with him from silence to explosion, and bassist Ken Filiano lends yet another voice of revolution. While the interaction among these players often manifests itself in original and unexpected ways (check out the closer, "Well You Needn't," where Filiano leads the intro and insistently emphasizes the tidal flow of the piece), the group essentially adopts a reinvented power trio approach.
For a guitarist with the technical prowess of Joe Pass (and who borrows a few ideas from the late master), Minasi has a surprisingly original sound. He seems to be searching for his voice on Goin' Out Again and while that's an exciting process, it also entails a lot of risk.