Keys and drums facing one another on a sensible looking stage. Doesn’t sound like an ambush, but DOMi and JD Beck decided that what the good people of the Sheen Center needed was to be stirred from their expectations with unrelenting, daringly-young, red-hot talent.
This show was absolutely mad. French keyboardist DOMi Degalle has the look of Dr. Harleen Quinzel (from Suicide Squad) and the sound of Robert Glasper being passed through an as yet uninvented cosmic filter channeling the sound and brightness of a planet not quite in this solar system. Dallas-born Beck is 15(!?) and so can do what the hell he wants, and does just that. The frenetic beats and runs emanating from his kit are part Chris Dave, part whatever JD feels like at any given moment.
The pair have previously been on the road with Knower (Louis Cole and Genevieve Artadi) and whilst it would be too assuming to say that the ‘influence’ is clear, their style, attitude and humour is similar. DOMi works a bass synth at the same time as her keyboard with both right and left hand working with dexterous ambition and studied abandon. The notes come fast, furious and focussed with JD Beck provoking an equal amount of structure and mayhem from behind the drums. There are moments of paired back clarity although these are usually preludes to another onslaught of self-assured new jazz.
Beck hits the microphone with a drumstick ‘is this mic on?’ (yes) ‘This is more shit.’ (some music) ‘This is Flinstones.’ They give the Flintstones theme a rag-time reworking that then goes into something with yet more deep bass runs and somersaulting melody lines. ‘This is Giant Steps…by Beyoncé.’ The humour is as zany, unpredictable and fun as the music and after a quick on-stage conversation about whether DOMi will use the Clav on this one, they’re off again. Well done to whoever decided to put them on in this place, at this time — they were an accidental find and a favourite moment of WJF so far. Here’s hoping plenty more people stumble into DOMi and JD Beck during 2019.
The Winter Jazz Fest Marathon weekend runs over 11 + 12 January — more info here.