Derrick Hodge is stepping out front with his debut album as a leader, entitled Live Today. The bassist, who has worked with artists ranging from Mulgrew Miller to Jill Scott, is probably best known for his genre melding work with pianist Robert Glasper. It’s this blend of jazz, hip hop, and R&B that shines through on the effort, which offers more insight into Hodge himself.
“My process for making this record was just starting from ‘what is the most basic thing I want people to know about myself?’” he shares. “I want to give somebody something that’s honest and is at the core of what I’m feeling at the moment. ‘What’s Derek, and what’s a snapshot of him at this moment in time?’”
The process led Hodge to write most of the content in the moment and based around the musicians he brought on board, including Glasper, drummer Chris Dave, rapper Common, saxophonist Marcus Strickland, the American String Quartet, and more. Wielding both his upright and electric basses, Hodge explains his musical sculpting came from thinking of the sound of his band rather than his personal instrument.
“I didn’t think so much about the timbre and the sound of the actual instrument that I play when I wrote this music,” he adds, “I gravitated toward the band sound and worked within that framework.”
Even so, the low end on the album is outstandingly musical and very tasteful. From the fat, easy groove of “Gritty Folk” to the fretless beauty of “Solitude” to the jazz-infused R&B lines of the title track, Live Today is full of stunning bass work.
Live Today Track List:
- The Real
- Table Jawn
- Message of Hope
- Boro March
- Live Today (feat. Common)
- Dances With Ancestors
- Anthem In 7
- Still the One
- Holding Onto You (feat. Alan Hampton)
- Gritty Folk
- Doxology (I Remember)
- Night Visions