The track starts with a scratchy voice. It’s a voicemail. And it’s Q-Tip. Arguably hip hop’s greatest producer, J Dilla, had passed away in the past year. He wants Robert Glasper to play some J Dilla tracks. “Trio style.”
J Dillalude is exactly that – a four minute jazz exercise and tribute to one of the icons of hip hop. Houston born Robert Glasper, one of the marquee finds of legendary jazz label Blue Note, creates a quick medley of some of J Dilla’s most iconic beats. Glasper has a subtle style, sometimes criticized for being too palatable. Actually, that’s his greatest gift. By being able to blend R&B, hip hop, and post-bop era jazz, Glasper’s style may feel familiar but it is a romantic, nuanced take on modern piano playing.
There is a light touch to this medley. His rhythm players (Damion Reid on drums, Vicente Archer on bass) do a great job of augmenting and retaining the head-bobbing characteristics of hip hop. The trio churns through some of the most familiar pieces in the J Dilla catalog. Most recognizably, Common’s “Thelonius,” Slum Village’s “Fall in Love” (cooly rearranged into Bill Evans-esque phrasing), and De La Soul’s “Stakes Is High” make appearances. It’s a fitting tribute to not just Dilla himself but to the people who think jazz and hip hop are one and the same.
This track comes from In My Element, one of the best jazz releases this millenium. Cop it.