Jazz interview with jazz guitarist, composer, educator Dom Minasi. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – Please explain your creative process ․․․
Dom Minasi: – For my composing it happens when I mediate. I can hear or see the notes in my minds eye and I write them down and the I proceed to arrange the piece for one of my groups.
As far as my playing or improv I just close my eyes, let go and let the universe take over.
JBN: – What are your main impulses to write music?
DM: – There are no main impulses. If I think of a project I would like to record, I begin composing.
JBN: – What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments and pieces in your work and/or career?
DM: – That’s a hard one. I thought my Blue Note Album , When Joanna Loved Me, would put me on the map, but it didn’t, mostly because Blue Note’s only promoted the record in New York City. The rest of the states and the world there was none.
Years later when my wife and I created CDM Records. Takin’ The Duke Ou,t really boosted my career. That was the year 2000. Since then, I have done many recordings as a leader and co-leader and sideman and I am proud of each one. The Vampire’s Revenge qualified me as a composer of avant -garde music and my latest Me-Myself and I and qualifies me me as a melody writer.
JBN: – Before we jump into anything historical, can you tell us about what we can expect musically this evening?
DM: – Don’t know w-hat you mean, but if you play my latest recording, you will hear tonal melodies and straight-ahead improv.
JBN: – Are there sub-genres within the jazz field that you tend to stay away from or focus on?
DM: – Yes. Jazz Fusion and Easy Listening Smooth Jazz.
JBN: – When your first desire to become involved in the music was & what did you learn about yourself from music?
DM: – Early on what I didn’t know how to be patient. And the need to constantly grow and search and always re-invent myself. Which I am Now.
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
DM: – I mediate. This may sound weird, but I try to access the spirit of John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy and Cecil Taylor and warmup for 20-30 minutes. For my straight-ahead playing, always Miles Davis and Cannonball Aderly.
JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2022: Me Myself and I, how it was formed and what you are working on today.
DM: – I think it shows my audience that I can play any type of jazz. Most of my fans are used to my outside approach. This is not outside at all.
I have composed new music for at least 4 recording. Before the pandemic hit, I was ready to record my group The Westside Improvisation Group (WIG) but it was canceled. Because of the pandemic I have written lots of new music for my different groups and hopefully we will start rehearsals in November and start recording soon after. My first recording will be with guitarist, Jack DeSalvo for Unseen Rain Records. This will be our second recording as a duo. Both Jack and I are bring three-four tunes to the recording.
JBN: – Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?
DM: – I am always trying to evolve. I think the old me (pre-pandemic) has evolved to a new me. I play a little differently than I did a few years ago.
That’s easy. I have a roster of musicians who understand what I want. They are all good readers and great improvisors.
JBN: – How would you describe and rate the music scene you are currently living?
DM: – It is not good. A lot of players hustling to get gigs and there are very few gigs that pay. I only make money when I go on the road or out of the country and because of the pandemic, that ended. But maybe in 2023 I will begin to perform again.
JBN: – When you improvise do you know where you’re going. It’s a matter of taking certain paths and certain directions?
DM: – I kind of know, but I am open to whatever comes in. I love the creative process, so I just let it happen.
JBN: – Do you ever get the feeling that music majors, and particularly people who are going into jazz, are being cranked out much like business majors? That they are not really- able to express themselves as jazz musicians?
DM: – Yes. Too many jazz- students are all taught the same way and sound the same. Some have left tradition by the wayside. There’s no blues in their playing and they don’t swing.
JBN: – What about somebody who is really gifted and puts together a band and just gets upset to the point of quitting because of the business aspects-the agents and the clubs?
DM: – It happens. I wrote a fictitious story in my blog about it.: http://domminasi.blogspot.com/2022/01/a-fictional-account-of-young-musician.html
JBN: – And lastly, being a teacher, do you find it difficult to write music yourself?
DM: – No. I’ve been doing it for years and have published my books and my songs.
JBN: – With such an illustrious career, what has given you the most satisfaction musically?
DM: – Believe it or not, it’s now. I seem to be getting more recognition in the last few years than I have gotten in the last 45 years.
JBN: – From the musical and feeling point of view is there any difference between old and great jazzmen and young?
DM: – Mostly yes, but there are some young and middle-aged players on the horizon that have it all.
My new blog, Dom Minasi’s Guitar Hang introduces great guitarists who need a little help getting more exposure:
JBN: – What advice would you give to aspiring musicians thinking of pursuing a career?
DM: – Be in it for the music, not the recognition. Constantly keep learning. Besides being talented you must be patient and understand that luck has a lot to do with it and don’t think you’re the best, because there is always somebody better just around the corner.
JBN: – Do You like our questions? So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself?
DM: – Yes, I like your questions. There is really nothing to ask. I think we covered it all.
JBN: – Have you ever given a free concert during your entire concert career? At the bottom line, what are your expectations from our interview?
DM: – I may have, but truthfully, I don’t remember.
Interview by Simon Sarg