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July/August 2006

Dom Minasi
The Vampire's Revenge
CDM

If Chick Corea can write two albums based on L. Ron Hubbard stories, it makes sense that someone would eventually write an album inspired by Anne Rice novels that would draw heavily on free improvisation. Guitarist Dom Minasi came up with 10 such compositions that fill up two discs, although the subject matter acts as muse rather than an underlying theme of the music, more often than not.

Bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Jackson Krall are the two constants of the album, along with Minasi. 19 different guests appear throughout on reeds (including Perry Robinson, Mark Whitecage, Joe McPhee and Blaise Siwula), brass (Steve Swell, Herb Robertson and Paul Smoker), piano (Matthew Shipp and Borah Bergman) and strings (Jason Kao Hwang and Tomas Ulrich). On the eerie “The Transformation,” the mix of flutes, brass and strings evoke a rather sinister and entertaining image. But more often, the ensemble sounds unfocused, and Minasi can’t seem to break beyond manic strumming and chicken-scratch noises.

Vocals are always a slippery slope in free music, and Carol Mennie’s operatic whoops in two songs don’t do them any favors. However, that’s no preparation for Peter Ratray’s recitation in “Where You Gonna Go? Where You Gonna Hide?” Sounding like a spoof of free jazz and poetry, this god-awful 12-minute piece largely consists of Ratray ranting “VAM-pire! VAM-pire!” with his voice drenched in echo. Minasi’s sense of humor fueled The Vampire’s Revenge, which is apparent from some of the song titles (“Who’s Your Dentist?,” “Just One More Bite”). Still, that doesn’t excuse “Where You Gonna Go.” I want those 12 minutes of my life back.

Originally published in July/August 2006
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