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Young Jazz duo DOMi & JD BECK make their masterful debut under the watchful eye of Anderson Paak with ‘NOT TiGHT’.

Here’s an album that caught me totally by surprise. DOMi and JD BECK were completely unfamiliar names to me until Take A Chance ft. Anderson .Paak popped up on Spotify and my curiosity peaked. NOT TiGHT was released last Friday on the APESHIT label founded by Anderson .Paak and run under the legendary Jazz label Blue Note Records.

French keyboardist DOMi met drummer JD BECK at Namm 2018 where they began playing together, catching the attention of the likes of Erykah Badu, Thundercat, and Anderson .Paak. This was far from the first taste of musical success the duo had earned, however. DOMi earned a presidential scholarship at Berklee College following french conservatoire education from the age of 3, while JD BECK has history gigging with Erykah Badu, and spent time under the mentorship of Robert Searight (Snarky Puppy).

The painfully young duo first made their collaborations public in a number of youtube videos including a tribute to the legendary hip-hop record Madvillainy, and this video, where DOMi sight-reads the notoriously tough solo from Snarky Puppy’s Lingus. DOMi & JD BECK became the first signing under .Paak’s label earlier this year, and immediately began releasing singles leading up to the debut record.

LOUNA’S iNTRO

The album begins with an orchestral cinematic moment, straying from the tone of the rest of the record, this is still a clever bookend to the project. A contemplative moment before the virtuosic jazz onslaught.

WHATUP

From the outset, the mastery packed into NOT TiGHT is evident. The first full-length track on the record comes in the form of an instrumental, with a new time signature hidden around every corner and an extra beat crammed wherever it fits. The influence of the duo’s mentors and inspirations are immediately apparent, with sonic nods to both the keys and drums that make Snarky Puppy so great.

SMiLE

This was the first single the duo officially released, and once again is instrumental, this time with a more clear-cut structure and a few tasty hooks thrown in. The breakdown about two minutes in arrives unexpectedly but once again I can’t help but be astounded at the talent on display.

BOWLiNG (feat. Thundercat)

Legendary funk bassist and singer Thundercat makes the first of many named appearances on the project. A relatively short and simple song (by Jazz standards), the vocal provided by Thundercat perfectly sits with the groove the duo has got going. BECK’s drum work takes a backseat on this track, whilst the harmony and chordal work provided by DOMi shines.

NOT TiGHT

The title track comes in the form of another instrumental. Thundercat also appears on this track, this time ditching the vocals and instead providing a typically tight-as-f*ck bass call and response with DOMi on keys. The solo section the two take is a stand-out, truly capturing a sense of conversation between the instruments.

TWO SHRiMPS (feat. Mac DeMarco)

Mac DeMarco was an interesting choice of collaboration for this record. DeMarco has a very distinct lo-fi style which doesn’t quite fit what’s going on with NOT TiGHT. However, in testament to the duo’s artistry, rather than have DeMarco influence the record with his style, DOMi & JD BECK invite him into their sonic world, allowing him to paint with their pallet rather than his own.

U DON’T HAVE TO ROB ME

The seventh track on the album features the first appearance of the duo’s vocal work. Syncopated harmony-laden lyrics are delivered in clear-cut sets of phrases. What really caught my ear on this track was the real sense of fluidity in the velocity and flow, as if the metronome has been abandoned in favor of a more feel-based sense of rhythm.

MOON (feat. Herbie Hancock)

What an insane feature to pull off on a debut record. The Jazz icon Herbie Hancock delivers his famous vocoder vocal over the phenomenal instrumental work from the duo that at this point on the album has been cemented as standard.

DUKE

One of the weaker points on the record, DUKE takes a slower approach to an instrumental track. There’s a minor loss of energy here, but on the merit of the previous tracks, we’re far from beyond saving at this point.

TAKE A CHANCE (feat. Anderson .Paak)

The weakest point on the record is relievingly followed by one of the strongest. Anderson .Paak dives straight in with his signature unique delivery on one of the most memorable tracks on the album. As both a mentor figure and collaborator on the record, .Paak knows exactly what the direction of the record is and how best to slot himself in.

SPACE MOUNTAIN

As far as the instrumentals go, the energy has been picked right back up with this one. SPACE MOUNTAIN has some of the most memorable keys work from DOMi, while BECK shifts time signature and feel seamlessly.

PiLOT (feat. Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Anderson .Paak)

Once again, how are these insane features being pulled off? Unexpectedly Snoop is an almost perfect fit for this sound, maybe something he should be experimenting with in his own work? Busta Rhymes also provides some classwork. What has so far outshined the work of all the features on this record is the artistic vision to bring them together in the first place.

WHOA (feat. Kurt Rosenwinkel)

Kurt Rosenwinkel is an ‘if you know, you know’ type artist. DOMi and JD BECK certainly know. A not inobvious but great choice, Rosenwinkel’s effortlessly masterful guitar work sits front and center while the duo take more of a supporting role on this track.

SNiFF

The final full-length track on this album is a fast-paced instrumental where JD BECK’s drumming really shines.

THANK U

The other bookend to what has been an astounding record, a similarly cinematic orchestral piece closes off the project.

Final Thoughts

This was a mind-blowing way to be introduced to an artist. Benefitting from Anderson .Paak’s contact list, the duo managed to construct the perfect project to make their first official mark. I would’ve liked to see more vocals from both DOMi & JD BECK, they prove it’s well within their capability on U DON’T HAVE TO ROB ME, and with so many instrumental tracks, it feels like a missed opportunity. Other than that, there’s very little criticism to be made, the artistic vision is rock solid, proven by the ability to bring other artists into their own world rather than adopting that of their collaborator’s, and the talent is practically overflowing. All things considered, a superb release.

Written by

Drew Manning

Drew Manning is the Owner and Lead Editor of Alibi London.