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Jazz - Released June 26, 2020 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released August 26, 2016 | Blue Note (BLU)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note (BLU)

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note (BLU)

Bassist, composer and producer Derrick Hodge has spent much of his life absorbing, studying, and playing music: from gospel and classical to hip-hop, Philly-and-neo soul; from post-bop and modern jazz, to cinema music. Live Today, his debut for Blue Note, reflects the sum total of his professional experience -- working with Mulgrew Miller, Terrence Blanchard, Stefon Harris, Common, Jill Scott, Q-Tip, Maxwell, and the Robert Glasper Experiment, composing film scores, etc. -- that has resulted in a rarified musical vision. Hodge's self-produced album is a sprawling, hour-long set, that displays a mercurial, adventurous aesthetic, which is as disciplined as it is fluid and welcoming. Live Today is polished, not slick; it frames and colors a music that is purposely raw and kinetic -- most of the album was composed just weeks before recording -- and preserves moments of unplanned inspiration. Opener "The Real," embodies almost everything at once. Commencing with samples, loose percussion, and tight kit work from Chris Dave, a vampish melody from keyboardist James Poyser emerges and gradually invites the horn section (Keyon Harrold, trumpet; Marcus Strickland, tenor saxophone; Corey King, trombone), turntables, synths, and Hodge playing electric and acoustic basses. It's a groover; equal parts contemporary and post-bop jazz, and funky neo-soul. On "Message of Hope," Hodge plays a nearly hummable melody in the upper register of his electric, accompanied by drummer Mark Colenburg and Travis Sayles on keyboards. The bass solo builds on the repetitive vamp frenetically, becoming an encounter with jazz-rock. Common rhymes breezily and soulfully on the jazzy hip-hop of the title track, with Glasper's instantly recognizable pianos (acoustic and Rhodes), and Dave's rolling, in-the-pocket restrained snare and hi hat. Hodge moves underneath, pushing at the tune's edges until it expands. "Dances with Ancestors" is a nocturnal ballad with numerous interlocking parts from various keyboards, killer breakbeats, a post-bop horn chart, and Hodge's bass interludes tying it together. "Anthem in 7" is a syncopated, dazzling, bass-driven groover that embodies dubstep, contemporary jazz, and neo-soul. "Holding On to You," a nearly straight-ahead folk-pop number, features vocalist/guitarist Alan Hampton, and is adorned only by the leader's upright bass and his arrangement for the American String Quartet. They also appear on on the haunting "Solitude," with pianist Aaron Parks on top, and Dave keeping slippery time; Hodge solos around the entire frame, almost like a singing voice. On the public domain Christian hymn, "Doxology (I Remember)," the bassist bows his upright on the melody, accompanied by Sayles' B-3 sounding like church organ. Closer "Night Vision," on which Hodge plays all instruments, is the last of several interludes interspersed throughout the set, denoting the album's various sections. For all its exploration and diversity, Live Today would be a cipher, were it not for Hodge's intense focus that reins the entire sprawling encounter, into a provocative, utterly engaging whole. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 26, 2016 | Blue Note (BLU)

Derrick Hodge has been busy since releasing Live Today, his debut solo offering, in 2013. As a member of the Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio 2 followed his record by two months, and that band toured for more than a year. Hodge also co-produced Otis Brown III's The Thought of You, played an integral part in Glasper's reimagining of Miles Davis on Everything's Beautiful, and resumed his role as musical director for Maxwell. The Second builds on the genre-blurring foundation Hodge laid on Live Today, but contrasts with it as well. His attraction to cinematic soundscapes remains evident but there's a deeper focus on delivering more immediate melodies here. He has chosen -- for the most part -- to keep his own counsel here, and he plays all instruments on nine of these 12 tracks. The title track (and first single) is one of three to feature Mark Colenburg on drums. The snare, hi-hat, and cymbal grooves frame a bittersweet melody with a gospel vibe alternately articulated by electric bass, guitar, and acoustic piano. A synth backdrop assumes personas of horns and strings. Syncopated breaks and a B-3 wind around the guitar solo in the bridge. "Song 3" is a lovely ballad. Scored for bass, piano, drums, and ambient atmospherics, the melody is delivered via a treated bassline and rhythm tracks in waltz time punctuated by flute fills, as backmasked production effects add layers of texture. "World Go Round" is a dexterous bass jam that weaves jazz, country, and funk atop fingersnaps and hand percussion. "Underground Rhapsody" places Colenburg's snare breaks alongside bluesy guitar fills, a pulsing keyboard vamp, and a rumbling bassline, all appended by harp samples. It recalls the Glasper band's swelling live jams. "Clock Strikes Zero" weds vintage Kraftwerk-esque electro to contemporary jazz with layers of echo surrounding the distorted bassline. The horn section of trumpeter Keyon Harrold, saxophonist Marcus Strickland, and trombonist Corey King -- who all appeared on Live Today -- return on "For Generations," the only straight-up jazz tune. Its slow stroll weds progressive swing and New Orleans R&B. Hodge employs his electric and upright basses, providing exceptional harmonics and rhythmic extension. "Going" is a slinky groover with synths and harpsichord set against a breezy, smooth, jazz-funk chart highlighted by Colenburg's taut breaks and Hodge's fluid, sexy bass. "From Me to You" is a sparsely adorned folk-jazz ballad with Celtic overtones. Acoustic piano, ambient sounds, and string effects support his gentle tenor vocal in delivering the tender lyric. On The Second, Hodge's disciplined arrangements make convincing use of all the instruments he plays, creating a smooth flow throughout. His compositions are no less ambitious, even if they are more readily accessible. This album is a more holistic endeavor and, while a tad more laid-back, is utterly lovely in conception, production, and execution. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 18, 2005 | Fresh Sound Records

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Jazz - Released June 26, 2020 | Blue Note Records