Today would have been the 37th birthday of James Yancey, the Detroit producer better known as (a) Jay Dee, (b) J Dilla, and (c) the stylistic architect for an entire generation of hip-hop heads, member of Slum Village, occasional rhymer, maker of tracks for A Tribe Called Quest and Busta Rhymes, and so on and so on. It's also the fifth birthday of his most beloved release, Donuts, an artfully quick-n-dirty compendium of beat snippets made for, or later used by, rappers like Ghostface Killah and MF Doom.
Yancey died of lupus in 2006 just after his 32nd birthday, just three days after Donuts was released. But he's hardly kept quiet since then, releasing a handful of posthumous albums and being fêted left and right by devotees all over the world. (Remember when a Bay Area collective took over Madrone last summer for an evening of his music?)
In that vein, The Smoking Section has just posted a complete rendition of Donuts by the New York jazz trio Stray Phrases. The recording was made in October, but now is as ideal a time as any to listen to how well it translates to another genre, or more aptly what a good job it's always done of loping, subtly and sloppily, across genre lines.