10 Fingers: Derrick Hodge

by Ella Campbell

Allow us to explain what a “10 Fingers” post will be: we ask musicians ten fun and and quick questions. Hopefully the answers only require one or two sentences, we know these guys have got a lot of people to talk to! With those short answers, we at Back Beat add links so that you can discover and learn from them everything they mean when they just give us the name of an album or artist. I know these interviews look short, but try to read as many of the links as you can – we certainly learn a lot looking all of them up, and we want to share all of that with you!

On Friday night, Detroit was graced by the presence of the Robert Glasper Experiment. If you’ve never seen a concert in Detroit, go there. That city shows LOVE. Well, “moves love,” I suppose. The line-up included Mark Colenburg, drums; George Clint– I mean, Casey Benjamin, saxophones, vocoder and ambient laser sounds; Derrick Hodge, bass; and of course Robert Glasper, keys.

After the show, two friends, one Jazz Girl and one Jazz Guy, accompanied me while I was lucky to get the chance to have a quick conversation with Derrick.

1. What’s your favorite booty music? “Booty music? Depends.”
Okay, well, how about favorite dance music. … Still depends?
“Yeah. But I could go dance to some Skrillex. That’s some dance music.”

2. What’s your favorite thoughtful music? Radiohead.

3. What do you call the music that you play? “I call it whatever the people who come to see us play call it. Just as long as it gets them here to listen. ‘People Music.’”

4. What music from your childhood has stuck with you? Nancy Wilson, The Isley Brothers, Kirk Franklin and gospel music, and Marcus Miller.

5. What is the first album you bought that you couldn’t stop listening to? “Woooo.” He looked up and became thoughtful. “Donny Hathaway. The album with ‘Someday We’ll All Be Free.’” Extension of a Man. “I would listen to it to feel his spirit. He has an ability to really make us feel the way he felt.”

6. What is your favorite vocal jazz album?Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley. It was my dad’s favorite.”

7. If you could see any musicians play, alive or dead, who would they be?Michael. Then, Stravinsky and the Beatles, believe it or not.”

8. What’s your favorite basement album? Nas: Stillmatic

9. What was the most profound moment you’ve had in a private lesson or masterclass? “Hm. This is a good question… When I realized that all simple things answer all of my questions. I wanted to play fancy but, fancy is just a combination of boring and simple things. Vince Fay… He was my teacher.”

10. Who is a young musician that we should be looking out for? “Kenneth Rodgers. ‘Gizmo.’ He’s… well, he’s a musician. He plays guitar, bass, sings and is a musical director.”

Derrick Hodge poses with some of our Jazz Girls. Beautiful music, beautiful bass, beautiful man!

Derrick was one of the most patient musicians I have ever talked to. We would remind him that it was okay if he had to dart off and put his things away but he politely insisted that he had the time to answer our questions. Giving thoughtful and direct answers, our writing can barely illuminate what a truly wonderful spirit Mr. Hodge embodies.

Keep your eyes and ears open for our upcoming articles:
10 Fingers: Casey Benjamin
Transcriptions: Clifford Brown
Concert Review: Snarky Puppy
Concert Review: Robert Glasper Experiment
Messages from Masters: Bobby Carcasses

Until then –
Swing sisters, swing!


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