Derrick Hodge: Live Today

11 Nov

Live Today, Derrick Hodge’s debut album for Blue Note, is an extraordinary contemporary jazz album. It is not only eclectic, with roots ranging from Herbie Hancock to prog rock to neo-soul and hip-hop. This is that rare album that not only provides something for everyone, but provides something excellent for everyone.

The variety makes it very hard to pick out a specific highlight, as there is something that appeals to every taste and they are all impressively strong. If you are into progressive rock or the works of Bela Fleck, then Message of Hope will be more than you could have hoped for. Derrick Hodge keeps a memorable melody going throughout accompanied by the drums and keys and then the whole thing breaks down into what is essentially rock. The titular song Live Today shows Common off quite well to make some classic jazz-rap. Dances With Ancestors is a sprawling, brilliant ballad and there is even some straight-up folk-pop with Holding On To You.

This is a contradiction of an album, dense yet approachable, diverse yet focused, soothing yet provocative. This is the album you recommend to a friend to get him into jazz and the album you pull up to counter claims that jazz died in the sixties. This is the album you should recommend to everyone.

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