Hendrix explores the origins of rap
Originally released as a twelve-inch single in 1984 (and on CD in 1992), “Doriella Du Fontaine” is something of an anomaly in the Hendrix catalogue. Recorded at The Record Plant in November 1969 with Buddy Miles (drums, organ) and Jalal, of proto-rap group The Last Poets, this impromptu jam session took place mainly at the behest of Alan Douglas, who later described the event: “Jalal was in my office just hanging out. We walked down to The Record Plant and Buddy Miles was there waiting for Hendrix. I said to Jalal, ‘Why don’t you do one of your poems for Buddy?’ During the middle of it, Jimi arrived and got all excited… We did one take, thirteen minutes straight. When it was over, everyone was amazed that it came off nonstop.”
On side B is a heavily truncated instrumental version of the same song, so no need to get excited there. Naturally one would like to think (or hope) that more recordings were attempted during this session, but it appears not. If any further tracks did take place, they are yet to be documented.
Although never issued in his lifetime, “Doriella Du Fontaine” offers a tantalising insight into Hendrix’s openness to expression, whether that was rock, blues, jazz, R&B, classical, or in this case, even hip-hop. A curiosity to be sure, but nevertheless it remains an intriguing one at that.