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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Derrick Hodge at Spruce Street Harbor Park, Amanda X at Space 1026, Maze ft Frankie Beverly at Dell Music Center

Derrick Hodge | photo via artist’s Facebook page

This week’s installment of Spruce Street Harbor Park’s Waterfront Sessions features Philly bassist Derrick Hodge. Hodge takes over the two sets of the night, playing tunes in anticipation of his 2016 release The Second. Find info on the event here, and listen to the title track, “The Second” below. Continue reading →

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Spruce Street Harbor Park’s summer concert series includes Donn T, Louie Louie, Cruisr, Derrick Hodge and so many more

roots picnic
Donn T | Photo by John Vettese

Free concerts at the Delaware Waterfront’s Spruce Street Harbor Park have become a highlight of every summer over the past four years, and this year brings one of the strongest lineups yet.

Kicking off on June 1st with Straw Hats and The Retinas, the series runs every Thursday night through August 31st, when it wraps with two sets by West Philadelphia Orchestra. In between, Philly artists like singer-songwriter Donn T, retro rock four-piece Louie Louie, indie pop outfit Cruisr, jazz bassist Derrick Hodge, rapper Chill Moody, rockers Oldermost and more will perform. The shows are all free and open to the public. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Derrick Hodge at Johnny Brenda’s and Alejandro Escovedo at World Cafe Live

Photo by Chris Baldwin
Derrick Hodge | photo by Chris Baldwin | courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia bassist Derrick Hodge will perform at Johnny Brenda’s tonight with support from DJ Junior. His latest full-length, The Second, dropped last year, and just a few months ago, he performed at The White House as part of Common’s Tiny Desk Concert for NPR. Watch a performance of “Dances with Ancestors” at the Kennedy Center below. Then, head over to XPN’s Concert Calendar for tickets and more information on the show. Continue reading →

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Bilal and Derrick Hodge repped Philly at Common’s incredible White House Tiny Desk Concert

Bilal, Common and Robert Glasper perform in the White House for NPR Music | photo by Becky Harlan | via facebook.com/nprmusic

With President Barack Obama’s South by South Lawn concert going down this week, the folks at NPR Music took a unique angle into their Tiny Desk Concert series. They actually staged and shot a session inside the confines of the White House.

The video, out yesterday, features socially-minded rapper Common, who had a remarkable band backing him up. In addition to acclaimed keyboard player Robert Glasper, trumpet player Keyon Harrold, flautist Elena Pinderhughes and drummer Karriem Riggins, there were two Philadelphia natives in the mix: Derrick Hodge on bass (who just released his great new record The Second) and Bilal Oliver, who Common introduces as “an incredible vocalist, artist, writer, voice and spirit.” Continue reading →

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Listen to two songs from PHL bassist Derrick Hodge’s new LP The Second

Derrick Hodge | photo by Chris Baldwin | via facebook.com/OfficialDerrickHodge

Looking ahead at the album release calendar for the final third of the year, it seems that 2016 is shaping up to have a great autumn in the local jazz scene. Fresh Cut Orchestra is dropping Mind Behind Closed Eyes on Ropeadope (read Shaun Brady’s interview here), Orrin Evans is releasing #knowingishalfthebattle on Smoke Sessions Records (listen to the song “Chiara” here), and then of course there’s renowned Philly bassist Derrick Hodge.

In September, he appears as a player on the much-anticipated ArtScience LP from Houston pianist and producer Robert Glasper – who, while not a local, certainly collab’s with a lot of Philadelphians and has a strong following in the 215. But equally exciting is Hodge’s latest solo outing, The Second, which comes out this Friday, August 26th, on Blue Note Records. Continue reading →

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The soulful sophisticated sounds of jazz musician Derrick Hodge (playing Underground Arts Friday, August 9)

Photo by Chris Baldwin
Photo by Chris Baldwin
Producer, composer and bassist Derrick Hodge just released his excellent new album, Live Today, on Blue Note Records. The Willingboro, New Jersery/Philadelphia area native is the bassist for Robert Glasper Experiment. At a very young age, Hodge was inspired by the bassist Joel Ruffin at the West Philly Beulah Baptist Church. From there he pursued a life of music, concentrating on the bass and learning to play traditional and modern jazz, neo-soul, gospel, hip-hop and R&B, as well as composing film scores. He graduated from Temple University’s Ester Boyer College of Music, studied under Terence Blanchard and Christian McBride, was mentored by James Poyser (The Roots) and has performed/recorded with Maxwell, Mulgrew Miller, Musiq Soulchild, Questlove, Q-Tip, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Marcus Miller, Jill Scott, and Common (who appears on Hodge’s album).

The collection of songs on Live Today are soulful, sophisticated, sensual, and thoughtful. It’s as funky as Nas and A Tribe Called Quest and stylistically diverse as Weather Report. Soul and hip-hop rhythmic influences permeate songs like “The Real,” and “Anthem in 7.” Songs like the gorgeous “Solitude” could be a distant cousin to the classic “A Remark You Made” by Weather Report. “Still The One,” (featuring Casey Benjamin on vocoder) is tender and elegant and wouldn’t sound out of place on a James Blake record. The players on the album are fantastically talented. Chris Dave, who plays on most of the record, anchors the rhythm section with all the right dynamics. He’s funky when he needs to be (“The Real” and “Rubberband”), and at other times lets the groove guide at a slower, contemplative pace. Pianist Aaron Parks gracefully shines and Keyyon Harrold contributes trumpet and flugelhorn on the standout “Boro March,” and the quiet tour-de-force, “Dances With Ancestors.” Live Today is a must listen and you can listen to it here in its entirety.

Hodge plays Undergound Arts this Friday evening, August 9. Go here for tickets.

Purchase Live Tomorrow here.

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Why Philly pianist George Burton waited 15 years to make his debut

George Burton | photo by Zoran Jelenic | courtesy of the artist
George Burton | photo by Zoran Jelenic | courtesy of the artist

George Burton’s résumé is indisputably impressive: he’s worked with jazz notables including Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Wallace Roney, and James Carter; accompanied pop artists including Meshell Ndegeocello and Patti LaBelle; he’s been the pianist for Odean Pope’s Saxophone Choir and the Sun Ra Arkestra and soloed with the Philly Pops and in Leslie Burrs’ opera “Vanqui.”

One thing the Philly native hadn’t done until now is record an album under his own name. That’s usually the first order of business for a musician leaving college for the competitive jazz scene, hoping to establish their reputation or least create a handy calling card to help land gigs. Since leaving Temple University in 2000, though, Burton has never lacked for work. Whether through the connections he made in the hothouse Ortlieb’s environment of the late ‘90s, where he was a regular, or simply through his own hard-won reputation for invention and adaptability, he simply hasn’t felt the need to record for recording’s sake. Continue reading →

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Travel through time with the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (kicking off this Thursday, 3/28)

PIFAThe Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts gets underway this Thursday, March 28th and will run through April 27th.  With homebase returning to The Kimmel Center and a new theme of time travel this year, the month-long event will use performances, lectures and exihibitions to explore past moments in history including the discovery of America, the lunar landing and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Below, check out a few musical highlights that you won’t want to miss, including a selection of free concerts happening in the Kimmel Center’s “Time Travel Plaza” (where you will also find a spiraling time machine).

Last Call at the Downbeat (4/5-4/13, Red Room at the Society Hill Playhouse):  Learn about Philadelphia’s jazz scene in the forties with this staged retrospective of trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.  Watch a short video about the play from show producers Jazz Bridge below.

Prima! Rufus! Judy! (4/21, Verizon Hall): Rufus Wainwright reprises Judy Garland’s return to the stage with selections from her 1961 Carnegie Hall performance.  The evening will begin with excerpts from Wainwright’s own opera Prima Donna.  Watch Wainwright perform “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” below.

Continue reading →

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The Mid East Ensemble, West Philadelphia Orchestra to play Penn Museum’s Summer Nights Concert Series

west philadelphia orchestra
West Philadelphia Orchestra | photo courtesy of the artist

It’s safe to say that Philly’s music scene is pretty kickass all year round, but man oh man, it does not mess around when it comes to music in the summertime. In addition to the stacked as heck Spruce Street Harbor Park series, the recently-announced Twilight Music Festival and The Key’s very own Philly Showcase at MilkBoy, now we have the eighth annual Penn Museum’s Summer Nights weekly concert series. Continue reading →