On August 6, Blue Note Records will release Live Today, the debut recording from extraordinary bassist and composer Derrick Hodge. Hodge is perhaps best known as the anchor of the genre-bending, GRAMMY award-winning band Robert Glasper Experiment, but he has also spent time in the cutting-edge jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s group, and is currently the music director for the R&B star Maxwell. Hodge brings all his experience as a soloist, bandleader, and composer to the fore on this impressive debut.
“This whole album was about putting on a composer’s hat, but also letting go and making sure that I’m giving people raw examples of how I feel on any given day,” Hodge explains. Live Today weaves together a distinctive musical vision from 14 stylistically diverse originals either written or co-written by Hodge that traverse modern jazz, hip-hop, R&B, gospel, and acoustic folk. The album features guest appearances from rapper Common, singer-guitarist Alan Hampton, as well as RGE members Robert Glasper, vocoderist Casey Benjamin, and drummers Marc Colenburg and Chris Dave, in addition to keyboardists James Poyser and Aaron Parks, saxophonist Marcus Strickland, trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and the American String Quartet, among others.
The title track provides the most explicit articulation of the album’s overall theme, thanks to Common’s conversational rhymes. After playing on three of Common’s albums – Be, Finding Forever, and The Dreamer/The Believer – it was befitting for Hodge to invite the MC on the album. “I really respect Common as an artist and as a person,” Hodge says, “When we first were conceptualizing this album, I knew from the jump that I wanted Common on it. I’m honored that he agreed to collab with me.”