Dom Minasi Guitar Quartet: Eight Hands, One Mind

Unseen Rain Records, recorded 2019, released 2021. Total time 32.30 minutes. With Dom Minasi, Briggan Krauss, Harvey Valdes, Hans Tammen. 

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Hans Tammen
Cover painting by Tom Cabrera
Photo of Hans Tammen by Scott Friedlander
Design by Qua’s Eye Graphix 
An Unseen Rain Production 
All music by Dom Minasi
Dedicated to Bern Nix

Liner Notes

In Memory of Bern Nix

I thought about writing for four guitars for a while, but I didn’t want it to be another ordinary jazz record and since I am very much into contemporary 21st Century music, I thought why not go that route?

After I finished writing I thought about who could I use? They have to be able to read and play free form improv. I immediately thought of Hans. We had already recorded together, and he understood the concept. I had been listening to Harvey for a while and I loved the way he played. For guitar one I asked Bern Nix. Bern had played with Ornette and we played together, too.

The group was intact. Just as we were about to have the last rehearsal before recording, Bern passed away. It was a shock to us and the whole jazz community. I put the project on hold for about six months . I asked Hans if he knew someone and he told me about Briggan Krauss. Briggan agreed to come over for a rehearsal and he fit right in. We rehearsed for a while and recorded. What you hear is the result.
Each piece, even though they have names, are like movements. Each movement related to each other that moves forward.

I would like to thank Jack DeSalvo for his confidence in all that I do and letting my music be heard through Unseen Rain Records.

Dom Minasi

Grego Applegate Edwars /  Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog

And the music was finalized and performed as a fitting tribute to the brilliant guitarist, and at the same time a memorable New Music-Improv offering that Bern no doubt appreciated in those rehearsal days. Listening to this one is a real pleasure--the compositions are intricate, detailed, advanced and filled with Modern openings outward in ways that seamlessly join fully interactive four-way compositional counterplay to free improvisations that in turn serve to extend the music's province while also bringing out the collective musical personalities of the players.

It surely is a triumph of bridging between New Music and Avant Improv. The musical content makes initial sense and intrigues on first hearing, then proceeds to grow ever more rewarding with repeated listens. Dom's compositions are outstanding examples of the synchrony of possibilities between to two domains, a series of exploratory gems that end up showing us a musically astute route between the compositionally profound and the spontaneously vital. Kudos to all concerned. This is music that resonates in part with how Bern Nix thought of his guitar role, something akin to what he was hearing-playing in his head then. It is an album anyone interested in advanced guitar should listen to carefully but also some great music for anyone who follows the "serious" music scene. Either should find this a joy to hear. Bravo.
Original Review here.

Downtown Music Gllery Newsletter / Bruce Gallanter

The opening piece starts off with layers of angular guitar parts, tightly organized yet still strange sounding nonetheless. Things slowly break into different solos, duos, trios and quartets. It actually sounds as if Mr. Minasi had written for four different versions of himself, since each guitarist adds another shade of what sound like atangled yet tight collective. Layers of interlinked bent chords, as well as odd single note insertions. While one guitarist solos, Minasi adds his own twisted jazz chords as punctuation. The other guitarists also add their own unique/weird chords so that there are several layers of lines all revolving around one another. Although things rarely get too dense, there are so many interconnected fragments all swirling simultaneously that it is a marvel to capture this fleet spirit. When things do approach a more dense level, the heated activity is almost too much to believe yet always settles down into a more relaxed section or conclusion. It sounds as if Mr. Minasi has written some skeletal themes which are interspersed with various layers of focused and free chords from his collaborators. This guitar quartet don’t quite sound like any other quartet that I’ve heard before and I must admit that this is some of the most fascinating music I’ve heard in recent times. Take some time and listen closely to this unique new world. Original Review here.

All About Jazz / Hrayr Attarian 5/2021

Restlessly innovative, guitarist Dom Minasi is a stalwart of the creative music scene. A brilliant improviser and composer, Minasi deftly utilizes his inventive ideas as launching points for his equally exciting extemporizations. On the unique Eight Hands One Mind, Minasi joins three other intrepid guitarists for a fiery and poignant tribute to another trailblazer, the late guitarist Bern Nix. The others in the group are the master of prepared guitar Hans Tammen, the virtuoso Harvey Valdes and the versatile Briggan Krauss who is also an accomplished saxophonist. Together, the four musicians overlap stimulating lines that are often simultaneously dissonant and lyrical. The result is an intriguing and intricate sonic tapestry. 

"Sucker's Paradise," for instance, opens contemplatively with a melange of sparse notes and silent pauses punctuated by brief rhythmic vamps. These refrains are themselves quite angular and vibrant. As the piece evolves the ensemble's repartee grows more passionate and delightfully riotous before closing with a return to the dynamic head. Elsewhere, "Misguided Heart" is a cinematic tune with shimmering melodic fragments coalescing into an expansive soundscape. The individual spontaneous expressions grow and expand with measured fury and engaging atonality. A melancholic mood prevails as twangy strums and forlorn pizzicato enhance the theatricality of the exchanges. Similarly "Dancing Rosetta'' has a dramatic ambiance with abstract dialogues contributing to the tension. The performance is peppered with latin hints sometimes, and blistering rocking chords at others. Nocturnesque and ethereal phrases bisect the track, building a Zen serenity. A provocative and haunting interplay of resonant strings echoing one another concludes the album on a high note.

As the title suggests, Eight Hands One Mind is more about the cohesive ensemble sound than individual solos. Yet the individuality of each artist still comes through loud and clear. The inner synergy of the group is manifested in balancing their distinctive styles with the shared musical vision. This intelligent and moving album is an apt homage to the ground-breaking Nix. Original review here.

Jazzis Magazine / Bill Milkowski 4/2021

Dom Minasi’s renegade guitar quartet project blends elements of 21st century composition and wide-open improvisation while showcasing his inimitable approach to the instrument. From highly disciplined, through-composed passages to atonal detours into freedom land,  Eight Hands One Mind is as entrancing as it is challenging. Original review here.

Oscar Groms / O’s Place Jazzmagazine 4/2021

Yes, these four guitarists, Dom Minasi, Hans Tammen, Harvey Valdez and Briggan Krauss, are in unison with Eight Hands, One Mind, and they come together on numerous selections to harness the power of a collective cultural thought process. However, there are times when this crew is definitely multitasking and going in different directions, yet still within the same book. There are six selection in 32 1/2 minutes of edgy guitar interaction.
Original review in O's Place Jazz Magazine.

NYC JazzRecord / John Pietaro 10/2021

Of those electric guitarists identified with jazz at its most expansive, Bern Nix should have reveled in a career of acclaim. However, following his years as lead guitarist of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time, Nix lived a terribly meager life. And though he helmed noted ensembles, there was struggle in every booking and he resided in a Chelsea SRO, dodging the dealers as he cradled his one object of value, his instrument.

When Dom Minasi first conceived of this quartet, he envisioned Bern Nix in the Guitar 1 seat. This project was never intended as a blistering series of solos but a dynamic, sensitive collection of works for four guitarists adept at reading and improvising. Nix’ unexpected death in 2017, shortly before the planned recording date, caused turmoil among New York’s music underground and Minasi questioned how Eight Hands One Mind could possibly exist in his absence. Deciding later to record the work (each piece is a movement of the whole) in Nix’ memory, Minasi reassigned the parts and then he, Hans Tammen and Harvey Valdes recruited Briggan Krauss to complete the circle. As intended, the end result is contemporary concert music bustling with the profoundly Nix- oriented aspects straddling all spheres.

Right from the opener, “Title One”, with its jaggedly rhythmic theme recalling the harmolodic concept (of which Nix, in 2013, told this reviewer, “Well, I’m still trying to figure out what that is”), the album glows with postmodernism. By design, each piece flows rationally into the next, albeit the avoidance of harmonic resolution. And while it is often difficult to pry apart who is playing which line, the particularly rapid vertical motion would seem to be the leader’s work. And then there are wonderful vexations like “Ooh Taste So Good”, which appears to have a mirrored structure (forward and then in reverse) and “Misguided Heart”, conjuring the dual guitar aspects of the best Twilight Zone scores before reconstructing its every phrase and discord into a Downtown whirlwind of sound liberation. After the final chord fades, you’ll think: Bern lives.
Original Review here. / Ted Viera 8/2022

Eight Hands One Mind. That is the perfect name for this album from the Dom Minasi Guitar Quartet. It absolutely describes each of the six compositions that make up this project. I love the strong harmonized melodies and counter melodies. The groove; the feel; the rhythms move so interestingly through each piece. Sometimes powerful, four voices moving together; sometimes soft and gentle. But always beautifully done. The thing I love about Dom’s music is that I’m drawn in from the downbeat, and my attention is focused throughout each tune. This is not music I could just put on for background music. For me it’s far too interesting.... This is not just another jazz guitar album, but a very unique and strong voice in 21st century jazz.
Original Review here.