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DOMi & JD Beck: NOT TiGHT (Blue Note)

A review of the debut album from the keyboardist and drummer

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DOMi & JD Beck: NOT TiGHT (Blue Note)
The cover of NOT TiGHT by DOMi & JD Beck

To the uninitiated, the cover photo of DOMi and JD Beck’s debut, NOT TiGHT, might simply reveal two more quirky Gen Z pop artists. Add the fact that keyboardist DOMi Louna and drummer Beck emerged through videos on YouTube, known more as a base for promoting boy bands rather than jazz, and the two might seem even more destined for 15 minutes of video-killed-the-radio-star fame. But luckily, music is still more about believing one’s ears than one’s eyes—even if, as is often the case with NOT TiGHT, listeners might not be able to believe what they’re hearing.

The minute-long “LOUNA’S iNTRO,” a classical motif with strings accentuating DOMi’s keyboards, leads to the duo track “WHATUP,” which exemplifies the duo’s YouTube wizardry. The French, Berklee-trained keyboardist’s two-handed attack and the Texas drum prodigy’s skittering figures on a minimalist kit conjure sounds of vintage Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, Billy Cobham and Vinnie Colaiuta. The two principals share writing credits throughout the disc’s 15 brief tracks, intermittently with guests like bassist Thundercat, who lends a lead vocal to the dreamy, two-minute “BOWLiNG” (with DOMi singing harmonies) and a middle solo to the strutting title cut, on which the precision of DOMi’s left hand and Beck’s subdivisions give the illusion of programming.

Hancock guests on the co-written “MOON,” lending piano and vocoder to DOMi’s dancing figures and realistic left-hand bassline. Other cameos include Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, and Anderson .Paak on the hip-hop-infused “PiLOT” and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel on the appropriately titled chops fest “WHOA.” The open-minded duo itself is the highlight on the chanted “U DON’T HAVE TO ROB ME” and acidic “DUKE,” both restrained compositions that rely less on the flash that brought DOMi and Beck attention in the first place. All are proof that the possible future of jazz fusion might not look like it.

Learn more about NOT TiGHT on Amazon and Apple Music.