The wait is over. Today, Blue Note have released ‘The Second’ by Derrick Hodge, an album title so cunningly unboastful you can’t even put a flattering adjective in front of it.
Hodge is a triple threat man; composer, musician and producer. He has produced for Common, scored the ‘Faubourg Treme’ and Spike Lee’s ‘When The Levees Broke.‘ He has recorded with Q-Tip, Mos Def, Timbaland and Anthony Hamilton and numerous Jazz legend and he is the bass player for the finest incarnation of the Robert Glasper Trio with Chris Dave.
Despite all this diversity and in particular Hip Hop influence, you wouldn’t call this album a hybrid, it’s Jazz, but it swings and loops with a cut n paste flair that adds an extra dimension to an already deep sound.
It’s a gripping and joyous project with Hodge playing most of the instruments as well as donning his producer’s pork pie snapback to shape and add texture to his virtuoso playing. It has a raw, studio feel to it. The beats are often looped though they crack with the sound of real drumsticks, the bass is woozy and often stacked with reverb. It has a live quality but that quality is underpinned by an attention to texture with audible fret movements left where they are, pencils on manuscript paper revealing themselves, vinyl crackling under the harmonics. Hodge even beautifully weaves harmonies from instruments played both backwards and forwards.
The title track and opener to the album is an exalting beginning. A simple piano melody and snapping breakbeat drums anchor the slow arrival of Hodge’s dexterous and emotive electric bass-playing as the song builds towards an incredible hymnal crescendo that will cause the hairs on your legs to get to crazed swaying.
Once you finally pluck up the courage not to press rewind again, the rest of the album does not disappoint. In places it has a kind of late 80’s, early 90’s vibe, a kind of dreamy joyous instrumental jazz sound like the Marcus Miller penned ‘Road Less Travelled’ by Joe Sample. In others it feels like Maxwell (for whom he was musical director) is about to start singing triumphantly any minute.
In fact, it has a bit of everything you could possibly want from Hodge; a deft New Orleans swagger on the Henry Threadgill reverberating ‘For Generations’, a sprinkling of the prettiest Glasperesque block chords, some fuzzed out soloing, those head-snapping drums. More than anything though, what elevates everything here above the norm is the feeling with which it is played. A touch and connection with the music that comes pouring out of your speakers from beginning to end. It’s a luminous venture into a way of working that hopefully Hodge will continue to explore.
Derrick Hodge: Instruments, Vocals, Bass
Mark Colenburg – Drums (tracks 1, 7, and 11)
Keyon Harrold – Trumpet (track 9)
Marcus Strickland – Tenor Saxophone (track 9)
Corey King – Trombone (track 9)