The John Hemmersam/ Dom Minasi Quartet: The John Hemmersam/ Dom Minasi Quartet
Two guitarists plus a rhythm ensemble explore some beautiful gentle numbers, and now and then dwell in the avant-garde areas.
This effort starts with a pair of exceptionally classy electric guitarists and bass and drums -- a nice swinging beginning to a number drawn from a phrase by the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Then we are treated to multi-noted soloing, fearsomely rapid two-guitar work, and a storming drum solo from Kresten Osgood's drums. And then track two, "Conclusions" begins way out, in areas travelled through appreciable portions of this set.
Minasi's "Inside Out" also starts pretty, lovely tune, then a bowed bass solo with only a moment's wayoutness settles to something well in. Then Hemmersam takes over with some rapid-note stuff, and Minasi's solo initially makes more use of timing, which is also referred to by some critics as use of space, then proceeds into wilder ways. "Woman" begins pretty, Minasi solos on electric, Hemmeersam comes in on vinyl-strung acoustic guitar. "Woman" and "Nathalie's Waltz" are Minasi compositions and things of beauty, entirely undulled. "Birth" however begins decidedly way out. However, track nine (Hemmersam on nylon-strung acoustic, Minasi on 12-string) is lyrical, sort of Brazilian and, in name and character, "Gentle".
"Being known as an avant-garde player has," as Minasi says, "its restrictions." He had a "straight-ahead" period in the past which people forget about. All the material here is from then, and he has tried to organize a staying-in element to every performance which also goes way-out (to Free Jazz, or whatever one calls it). The attempted counterbalance of conventional doesn't of course remove the aspect some listeners would find objectionable. The combination is an interesting one for the listener who wouldn't mind being called more daring: sometimes avant-garde, sometimes pretty, with some overlap. So this set can be unqualifiedly recommended only to people who'll happily listen to both sides of the music, or don't mind skipping to beautiful things like "Gentle," "Latina Mia" or the other in-all-the-way tracks. Actually this set can be unreservedly recommended to them.