In 2010, just weeks before the first Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, I got a call from Dominick Farinacci’s agent. He urged me to add Dominick and Aaron Diehl, as a duo, to the lineup. I told him it was too late and the cost side of the Festival was spent.
Dominick and Aaron were not that long out of Juilliard and were prepared to play for not much money. We made a deal; they were added to the playbill.
Truth be told, I had been to the Jazz Standard in New York City where Dominick was playing and had introduced myself to his pianist after the gig. Dominick was surrounded by attractive female fans and his pianist was sitting alone at the bar. I told him that I really enjoyed the set and that Dominick’s band might be shoehorned into one of the future festivals.
Since that night in 2009 I have seen Dominick in concert many times, most recently at the iconic Birdland in New York City. The Birdland appearance was a coming out for his new band Triad and appearing alongside was Shenel Johns, a vocalist, often just feet away from Dominick’s trumpet. They are an especially dynamic pairing.
Fast forward. Dominick, Shenel and Triad will be opening the Avalon’s Jazz Experience on September 2nd. My wife and I will be there; we can’t get enough of his music.
But there is a sidebar in our relationship with Dominick. He believes in the healing power of music. He told his story in a Ted talk which featured a new composition, Dawn of Goodbye, written for his mother, who had Stage 4 cancer. She is alive and well today.
His next move was in concert with a veteran of the Afghanistan War, Jaymes Poling. They conceived, scripted and composed music for Modern Warrior Live (MWL). MWL was a staged musical outreach to veterans and was performed in Easton (along with Cleveland, New York and Washington) shortly before the pandemic.
So, there you have it. I am not a music critic, so my praise for Dominick’s music should be understood as a friendly narrative. If you join my wife and me on September 2nd at the Avalon, it will be one of the best nights you will spend in 2022. If you are up-in-the air, take a quick look at this video from the sound check at Birdland here.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al writes on themes from his book, Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.