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Monday, February 4, 2013

Dom Minasi Septet - The Bird, the Girl and the Donkey II (Unseen Rain, 2012) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Halfway through Dom Minasi's The Bird, the Girl and the Donkey II the theme of Yankee Doodle spills out of Minasi's guitar. You can faintly hear appreciative laughter and then after a tiny pause, the band explodes, rapidly deconstructing the theme into shreds of musical confetti. The episode ends with the sax chattering and Minasi hitting elements of the long forgotten melody. Then, it is onto the next segment.

Two years ago (yikes! time flies when you're listing to all this crazy music), I offered my unsolicited thoughts on the first The Bird, Girl and the Donkey, writing, "The interplay never lets up, group improv leading to a single voice rising above the others, only to be subsumed back into the melodic stream below..."

I'd say that this is an description that also applies well to this new session, though I may replace the word stream with maelstrom. The continuity between the releases contents are strong but the song does not remain same, how could it? This is pure improvisation where a single player's ideas may get extrapolated on by the group, pulse and texture mean as much as the melodic and rhythmic lines. Bouts of group improv give way to solos and back again. It's a living and breathing thing. Plus, this is a larger group with some new voices, ideas and possibilities.

The last album found Minasi teamed up with Blaise Siwula on alto sax, Ras Moshe on tenor, Albey Balgochian on bass and Jay Rosen on the drums. This time around the group is expanded upon with Matt Lavelle on trumpet and Remi Alvarez on tenor sax. The additional musicians give the group even more firepower and combinations of trios, duos, and so on, to work with. Minasi directs it expertly and the resulting single hour long session is a fun and deep listening experience.

© stef