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Sunday, March 14, 2021

The Day DOMi and JD Beck Were Revealed to Me


Like so much else in my education, it started with an article in the New York Times

Then I watched this duo do “Giant Steps” –-J.D. Beck (16 at the time) and the keyboard player DOMi (19) — and I thought, in this exact order: Oh. Oh, my. Wow. What? WHAT? After a few minutes I started emitting short, snorting laughs. Not because the music was funny, but because you have got to be kidding me: Who were these kids?
My thoughts exactly.
They’d have to create another musician in a lab to sit in with them. I don’t know if Coltrane himself could get a lick in edgewise between these two geniuses.
Never before have I stopped listening to music so often just to ask, what the hell? What are they doing and how is that even possible? They take this tune known for its notoriously difficult chord changes and just run it through a ringer in about five directions. Just try to forget about their incredible virtuosity at age 16 and 19, how are they cool enough to have these musical ideas that are stratospheric leaps again and again in a single composition
Music isn't always about virtuosity, but someone probably needs to be out there pushing the absolute limits. It sure as shit isn't going to be me.

Here is my take on these two musicians. This is just my opinion and I’m wrong most of the time, so take this with a grain of salt.

Musicians generally run up through the ranks, following someone or another. They can stay on this course, or they can forge ahead on their own. With these two prodigies, they have reached such an incredible level of virtuosity at such a young age that they are already far beyond not only their peers, but just about everyone else making music these days. I can’t even imagine what their teachers at Berklee could possibly have to say to them.

With really no one to follow, they found each other and in a wild convergence of talent have forged out on their own, like space voyagers looking for new worlds. JD Beck had been playing professionally for years, and at sixteen, professional percussionists now teach their students to play like he plays.

Sixteen and he’s already developed his own style to the point that his beats are immediately recognizable. Amazing. DOMi seems to have surpassed any kind of apprenticeship most pianists follow, and she’s broken out before she’s even become a legal adult. Once again, simply amazing.

It appears that they haven’t been together for very long, a year, maybe two, yet their sessions are as polished and honed as anything you’ll hear in jazz. They both have the technical skills and creativity to do just about anything they can imagine in music. What we are seeing in these videos are their first bold steps together. While these recordings are remarkable in many ways, you still get the feeling that it’s just two children fucking around while they decide what to do with so much talent and skill.

I have read countless suggestions in the comments to their videos about how they should proceed, what kind of music they should play, and other counsel. My question to these people is who is qualified to tell these two anything? I hope that everyone will just leave them the fuck alone and let them explore their talent together.


For a little context on the first video:



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