Versatile Jazz Bassist: Derrick Hodge The Winner of Two Grammys

Written By Sonny Akbar Sembada

Hi, my name is Sonny Akbar Sembada and I welcome you to my blog, The Uncle Jazz. The main topic of my blog is everything related to jazz music.. 

Derrick Hodge: Strumming Strings Since 7!

Versatile jazz bassist Derrick Hodge kicked off his musical journey at the ripe age of 7, rocking out on the electric guitar. Why? Well, he was totally vibing with Joel Ruffin, the bassist. Fast forward a year, and he’s all about the electric bass guitar, jamming in elementary school bands and orchestras. Then, bam, middle school hits, and he’s slapping the double bass.

Now, there weren’t any double bass gurus around, so what does Hodge do? Teaches himself, of course! He’s all about applying electric bass guitar tricks and eyeballing those violinists across the room for some inspo. For the jazz band, it’s double bass time, but he’s throwing down like it’s an electric bass guitar. Who needs a ton of lessons when you’ve got that kind of ingenuity?

Music Maverick

Meet the versatile jazz bassist Derrick Hodge, born on July 5, 1979 – the guy wearing multiple hats: composer, music director, band leader, bassist, and an all-around music enthusiast. Oh, did we mention he’s bagged two Grammy awards, hung out as a Sundance Composer Fellow, and even scored a Motif Award for Child Advocacy? Plus, that bassline in Common’s “BE” is on every top 20 list in Hip Hop.

Hodge’s musical roots? Philly, baby! He soaked up the vibes of Gospel, Jazz, Classical, R&B, and the fresh beats of Hip Hop. Shoutout to mentors like James Poyser and Jethaniel Nixon – those dudes left a mark. Derrick got his musical degree from Temple University’s Ester Boyer College of Music, focusing on Jazz Composition and Performance. Vince Fay taught him the ropes of acoustic and electric bass.

The Music Maestro: Versatile Jazz Bassist

But wait, there’s more! the versatile jazz bassist Hodge isn’t just about performing; he’s got a thing for crafting tunes. From jazz and chamber orchestra to pop and R&B – he’s the maestro. Recently, he’s flexed his composition muscles scoring films and other projects. Plus, he learned the ropes from Grammy-nominated composer Terence Blanchard – a legend in his own right.

Talking recent wins? There’s the collab with Common and Kanye West on “Finding Forever” and scoring for films like “The Army Recruiter” and “Uneasy Listening.” He also contributed to powerful documentaries like “When the Levees Broke” and “Faubourg Treme.”

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Jammin’ On Stage

On stage, the versatile jazz bassist Hodge is the man behind groups like R+R=Now, the Robert Glasper Experiment, and The Blue Note All Stars. In the studio, he’s cooked up beats with legends like Quincy Jones, Don Was, and Common. Plus, as the Music Director, he’s had a hand in iconic acts like Yasiin Bey, Nas, and rocked the position for Maxwell from 2009 to 2019.

Youtube video by Martin Dunlap 

Growing up near Philly, Hodge’s talent caught the Neo-soul wave. During college, he became the go-to bassist for legends like Jill Scott, Maxwell, and Nas. Simultaneously, he built his jazz rep alongside heavyweights like Terence Blanchard and Donald Byrd.

As a Blue Note Recording artist, Hodge has dropped three solo gems: “Live Today” (2013), “The Second” (2016), and “Color Of Noize” (2020).

In 2014, the versatile jazz bassist Hodge made history as the first black composer to arrange Hip Hop tunes for the National Symphony Orchestra. Picture Nas going Illmatic, symphony-style, at the Kennedy Center – an epic moment in Hip Hop, fist-bumped by FENDER.

For his debut, Hodge is keeping it real – a small-group setup, sharing his musical vision. It’s the kickoff for a lifelong quest to keep music honest, relevant, and genre-free. Cheers to that!

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