A Few Words About “Mask”

DAVID DOMINIQUE, Mask (Orenda Records, 2019)

PERSONNEL: David Dominique (Flugabone and voices); Brain Walsh (tenor sax and clarinet); Joe Santa Maria (alto sax and flute); Sam Roberts (alto and baritone sax); Lauren Baba (viola); Alex Noice (guitar and electronics); Michael Alvidrez (basses); Andrew Lessman (drums and drumkat)


  1. The Wee of Us
  2. Grief
  3. Beetle
  4. To Dave Treut
  5. Invisibles
  6. Five Locations
  7. The Yawpee
  8. Separation Strategies
  9. Gotta Fumble



If there is one phrase I almost never utter when listening to an album, it is, “I’ve never heard anything like this before.” After all, everyone is influenced by someone. Meaning the artist’s sound finds its roots in a musician that came before, and the sound is being propelled forward from there.

With that being said, I offer the following into the record:

I’ve never heard anything like this before. 

Nothing is more refreshing than a unique voice, particularly in jazz. David Dominique has one. It starts with his highly unusual instrument, the Flugabone. From there, his compositions straddle the lines between Gypsy Jazz, big band, straight-ahead jazz, rock, and hip-hop electronica. All of the music is beautifully played, and requires pinpoint timing. It sounds like something Charles Mingus might have done, given the time and opportunity.

Dominique and his band have a massive “wall of sound” effect, and those sounds seem to come from everywhere. This is one of those records that deserves to be mixed in 5.1 surround.

The album packs a lot of information into a scant 37-plus minutes. But that is more than enough music, because there is so much to unpack here. Starting with “The Wee of Us,” a tune that sounds like a traditional Duke Ellington-led big band composition for about 30 seconds, before veering off into stutter-stepping, juxtaposed territory. “To Dave Treut” seems like it will find its home in heavy metal with its opening power chords, before turning into pure jazz. Both that tune and “Invisibles” also sneak in aspects of ’80s electronic percussion, like it could have been used by RUN-DMC.

There doesn’t appear to be a great deal (or any) improvisation coming from the musicians, given Dominique’s tendency to sing the melodies along with the other lead musicians. But that couldn’t matter less. There can be no doubt the charts on hand were plenty challenging enough.

David Dominique has provided yet another exciting voice in FutureJazz, which beautifully combines classic elements with modern touches. It reveals new secrets with each playing, making multiple listens an absolute must.


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    • It breaks down more than a couple of barriers. Traditionalists will struggle with it. I struggled with it for a couple of minutes. And then I HEARD it. It’s brilliant!


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