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Wed August 7, 2013
A Blog Supreme

Derrick Hodge: Finding Music In Unexpected Moments

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 12:45 pm

There are some weird sounds in jazz musician Derrick Hodge's song "Table Jawn." It was recorded at the breakfast table, during an argument Hodge was having with some bandmates.

"We were sitting there arguing about something, I think the Clippers versus the Lakers or something stupid," Hodge says. "And we all started yelling really loud, and one of us raised our voice and started beating on the table to get our point across. And then somehow, it turned into a beat — where one person grabbed a spoon, another person grabbed a coffee cup and we started doing beats to the point [where] my wife Christian grabbed her phone and recorded it."

Add a little jazz to that clanking and you've got "Table Jawn," a new song on Hodge's first solo album, Live Today. It's not his first foray into making music, though; Hodge is also bassist for the Robert Glasper Experiment.

Many musicians discover their love for music through church, but Hodge found church through music. It began one day when he was a kid, running errands with his mother in the family car.

"Someone pulled up in the car next to me and he had all these drums in the back — like, drums and keyboard and all this stuff — and he got in the car and he drove off," Hodge says. "So I said, 'Mom, can we follow that car? I saw instruments in the car.' ... For whatever reason that day, she said, 'Okay.' We pulled up to the church and she stayed in the parking lot. She said, 'All right, go in there for ten minutes.'"

Something unexpected happened after he wandered into the church that day.

"I didn't come out, and she came in looking for me," Hodge says. "She ended up staying there herself and then, by the time service was over, my mom had broke down crying. We ended up joining the church right then and there and it was the music that drew me."

Hodge says he hadn't heard much gospel music before that day.

" All I was really exposed to was, like, R&B music and what was playing on the radio in Philly," he says. "And, then all of a sudden, gospel just filled up my home. It was something I was hearing all the time. And that way of expression, of understanding music, of putting emotion first — no matter what else I've done in life — that way of wanting to relate to people on a certain emotional level never left."

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Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's hear a little jazz. This is from musician Derrick Hodge.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TABLE JAWN")

GREENE: It's a song called "Table Jawn," and there are some weird sounds there, right? Well, some of this was actually recorded at the breakfast table. Hodge and his bandmates were talking basketball.

DERRICK HODGE: We were sitting there, arguing about something - I think the Clippers versus the Lakers, or something stupid. And we all started yelling really loud, and one of us raised our voice and started like, beating on the table to, you know, get our point across.

And then somehow, it turned into a beat where, you know, one person grabbed a spoon, and another person grabbed a coffee cup; and we started doing beats to the point my wife, Christian, grabbed her phone and recorded it. (Laughing)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TABLE JAWN")

GREENE: Add a little bit of jazz to all of that clanking - and voila. You've got "Table Jawn," a song on Hodge's first solo album. His day job is with the Grammy-winning Robert Glasper Experiment. He's been playing bass since he was a kid.

Now, many musicians discover their love for music through church. Derrick Hodge found church through music. It began one day when he was a kid, waiting in the car for his mom, who had run into the store.

HODGE: Someone pulled up in the car next to me, and he had all these drums in the back - like, drums and keyboard, and all this stuff. And he got in the car, and he drove off. So I said, Mom, can we follow that car? I saw instruments in the car - you know, it was that simple. And for whatever reason that day, she said OK.

We pulled up to the church, and she stayed in the parking lot, and she said, all right. You go in there for 10 minutes.

(SOUNDBITE OF ORGAN MUSIC)

HODGE: I didn't come out, and she came in looking for me. And she ended up staying there herself and then, by the time service was over, my mom had broke down crying. And we ended up joining the church right then and there, and it was the music that drew me.

(SOUNDBITE OF ORGAN MUSIC)

GREENE: And he actually hadn't heard much gospel music before that.

HODGE: You know, up to that point, all I was really exposed to, for the most part, was like, R&B music, and what was playing on the radio in Philly. And then all of a sudden, gospel just filled up my home. And it was something I was hearing all the time. And that way of expression, and that way of understanding music, and that way of putting emotion first - no matter what else I've done in life, that way of wanting to relate to people on a certain emotional level, never left.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAZZ MUSIC)

GREENE: That's the voice of jazz musician Derrick Hodge. His new album, "Live Today," is out this week. And you can hear the album in its entirety, at npr.org/music.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAZZ MUSIC)

GREENE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.