Bassist Derrick Hodge was a palpable presence last year on Black Radio, Robert Glasper’s commercially successful mash-up of jazz, hip-hop and soul music. Hodge’s debut as a leader, Live Today, deploys many of the same core musicians and invokes a similar stylistic template, but cuts down on the high-powered guest stars and recognizable cover tunes to create a more focused, cohesive and artistically ambitious record. It is also very personal, with various tracks harkening back to Hodge’s time in church (the closing “Doxology [I Remember],” the lone cover tune), in his high school marching band (“Boro March”) and as a budding musician (“Rubberband” updates the demo track he made as a teenager). He also nods to two of his mentors, Terence Blanchard (the New Orleans-tinged “Gritty Folk”) and vibraphonist Steve Nelson (on the texturally diverse and dynamic “Dances With Ancestors”).
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