The crowd at The Local 269, a shabby New York City bar on 269 Houston Street, could not have been less interested. The bartender scribbled on his notebook, two older men talked to a woman half their age, and a gaggle of NYU students crowded a booth by the stage. Midterms were distant enough that they could drink on a Sunday. When an ear-splitting free jazz session finally died down, three NYU students put down their drinks took the stage.
“I thought Dilla was just a rapper,” asked a friend of mine who was there by mere coincidence. I began to reply, but the opening riff from “Workinonit” drowned out my voice. Maybe it’s a good thing more hip-hop kids weren’t in the house — one of them would have replied to that statement with the business end of a broken bottle.
The Detroit hip-hop producer passed away on February 10, 2006, but his influence is inescapable in 2010. The fanatical zeal of the Dilla fanbase has resulted in an outpouring of tributes, but few like this.
Stray Phrases is a jazz trio consisting of Storm Siegel on drums, Dave Mainella on piano, and Evan Crane on bass. On Sunday October 17, 2010, they covered J Dilla’s classic instrumental album Donuts from beginning to end. Metal Lungies is proud to bring you a recording of the whole set.
Many thanks to Joshua Gross for the artwork.