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Photo by Chris Baldwin Producer, composer and bassist Derrick Hodge just released his excellent new album, Live Today, on Blue Note Records. The Willingboro, New Jersery/Philadelphia area native is the bassist for Robert Glasper Experiment. At a very young age, Hodge was inspired by the bassist Joel Ruffin at the West Philly Beulah Baptist Church. From there he pursued a life of music, concentrating on the bass and learning to play traditional and modern jazz, neo-soul, gospel, hip-hop and R&B, as well as composing film scores. He graduated from Temple University’s Ester Boyer College of Music, studied under Terence Blanchard and Christian McBride, was mentored by James Poyser (The Roots) and has performed/recorded with Maxwell, Mulgrew Miller, Musiq Soulchild, Questlove, Q-Tip, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Marcus Miller, Jill Scott, and Common (who appears on Hodge’s album).

The collection of songs on Live Today are soulful, sophisticated, sensual, and thoughtful. It’s as funky as Nas and A Tribe Called Quest and stylistically diverse as Weather Report. Soul and hip-hop rhythmic influences permeate songs like “The Real,” and “Anthem in 7.” Songs like the gorgeous “Solitude” could be a distant cousin to the classic “A Remark You Made” by Weather Report. “Still The One,” (featuring Casey Benjamin on vocoder) is tender and elegant and wouldn’t sound out of place on a James Blake record. The players on the album are fantastically talented. Chris Dave, who plays on most of the record, anchors the rhythm section with all the right dynamics. He’s funky when he needs to be (“The Real” and “Rubberband”), and at other times lets the groove guide at a slower, contemplative pace. Pianist Aaron Parks gracefully shines and Keyyon Harrold contributes trumpet and flugelhorn on the standout “Boro March,” and the quiet tour-de-force, “Dances With Ancestors.” Live Today is a must listen and you can listen to it here in its entirety.

Hodge plays Undergound Arts this Friday evening, August 9. Go here for tickets.

Purchase Live Tomorrow here.

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