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Strong Women Strong Music 2016: Jennifer Hodge

In preparation for the Strong Women Strong Music 2016 Benefit for the Atira Women’s Centre (details below), Karin Plato has been posting profiles of the artists involved with her Platonic Questionnaire – these are too good to simply evaporate on Facebook. Bassist Jennifer Hodge will be one of the featured artists on March 8th @ Frankie’s:


Do you remember a concert that you attended that impacted you in a profound way?
There have been a great many! The most recent one that comes to mind is Cecile McLorin Salvant, who I had the great fortune of seeing at the Teatro Lope de Vega in Seville, Spain, in November. She is out-of-this-world talented, capable of expressing seemingly any musical idea which comes to her, and exhibits a vast range of influences (musical and otherwise) which I always find particularly inspiring. Everyone else in her group was a brilliant musician as well, and as this was the last date of a 2-month tour they were incredibly tight and in tune with one another. It was profound music performed virtuosically and with great emotional range… Super inspiring.

Could you name a music teacher or mentor who has influenced and inspired you?
I’d like to mention two. The bass teacher I had when I was in grade 12 in the Comox Valley was a tremendous mentor. His name was Val Puljic – he was quite elderly, and had just recently moved to the Island when I started studying with him. He’d previously been a career bassist in MontrĂ©al, and in his native Croatia before that. He had never had a student before I started studying with him and didn’t expect it to be for him. To his surprise, we got along amazingly and I would look forward all week to going to his house after school on Fridays. We’d start with classical techniques, studies, and orchestral excerpts, then enjoy some snacks while listening to recordings (he’d show me everything from Mozart to Coltrane to Sinatra), then work on jazz bass lines, soloing, and phrasing melodies, etc. I learned so much from him, and he gave me an invaluable platform of skills and concepts of professionalism to build on which I’ll always be so grateful for.

Vancouver bassist Jodi Proznick has also been an inspiration and a great influence on me. I met Jodi at the Courtenay Youth Music Camp when I was 16 – it was really positive for me to see a kick ass female rocking the bass like I wanted to. She is so positive and has a real talent for teaching. I improved exponentially from studying with her at that camp, and I was also fortunate to study with her further when I was attending Cap University. She has been and continues to be a huge inspiration to young bass players all over the country. She rocks!!

Could you name a few artists whose recordings you enjoy listening to?
Lately I’ve been particularly enjoying digging into Erroll Garner, Tiny Parham, and the complete recordings of Billie Holiday and Lester Young together. My all-time favourite recorded artists include The Beatles, The Boswell Sisters, and Edgar Meyer.

Do you come from a musical family?
My parents are both hobby musicians. My mum plays flute (which she has taken quite far in Royal Conservatory exams), English concertina, and penny whistle, and has also been taking piano lessons the past couple of years. My dad was a boy soprano in his youth, played clarinet as a teenager, and plays acoustic guitar. We always had music playing in the house, and all varieties of it – classical, folk, electronic music, classic rock and pop.

Is there a famous musician you admire and if so why?
So many, and for so many reasons… Not sure where to start!

Do you play any other instruments other than your main instrument?
I play ukulele and dabble in other stringed instruments, but primarily I’m a bassist smile emoticon

What it is about performing music that you particularly enjoy?
Being a part of something that brings so many people together all the time; being able to connect with people of all backgrounds, ages, and walks of life; getting to travel; the profound thrill when a rhythm section has the groove just right and it’s the best feeling in the world; spreading joy and positivity; the fact that you can always continue to improve at it.

Could you name a famous song that you wish you were the composer of?
Hmm, the first one that came to mind is “Take Me To Church” by Hozier. It’s a brilliant song, with layer upon layer of symbolism in both the lyrics and the music. It was a pleasant surprise to hear such an artistically viable tune become a pop hit. And since it is a pop hit, it’s surely made him a lot of money. So there ya go! I promise I don’t go around wishing I’d written it, though, haha.

If you were able to share coffee, conversation and a duet with an influential female musician who would that person be?
I would pick Thelma Terry, Roz Cron, or Esperanza Spalding.

Thelma was a female bassist and bandleader in the 1920s – she recorded 6 sides, on which you can hear she was truly a bad ass bass player! Sounds like life for a successful female bandleading bassist in the 1920s was incredibly difficult, and one night she threw in the towel in the middle of a tour and caught a train home, leaving her bass and her career behind. I think it completely broke her heart. I’d love to be able to thank her for being a pioneer and tell her that things have gotten better…

Roz is a 90 year old saxophone player who used to play lead alto with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, a racially integrated all-female big band active in the 1930s and 40s. The recent documentary “The Girls in the Band” about female jazz musicians features a lot of interview footage with Roz. She has a wealth of incredible anecdotes, and she relates them all with such passion and feeling and sweetness. Every time I’ve watched that film I’ve wished I could hang out with her for a few hours!

Esperanza is one of the most brilliant musicians working today. She’s an incredible bassist, vocalist, composer, and arranger, has played with the best in the business (because she is one of the best in the business), and I’m willing to bet she’s a cool person to boot.

Advice to young aspiring musicians?
Keep your ears, mind, and heart open!


Help us celebrate 10 years of Strong Women Strong Music!

In celebration of International Women’s Day join us on the 8th, 10th and 11th of March for the 10th annual Strong Women Strong Music concert series, featuring West Coast’s most prominent women jazz musicians singing up support for Enterprising Women Making Art (EWMA), a program of Atira Women’s Resource Society. Revel in the voices and music of these talented artists while investing in the soul and spirit of the Downtown Eastside, where EWMA helps art and empowerment bloom.

One hundred percent of all proceeds will go to EWMA. For more than thirteen years EWMA has provided safe, income-generating opportunities for women in the Downtown Eastside free from exploitation, abuse and other vulnerabilities.

This year we are delighted to be partnering with Vancouver Coastal Jazz. With their support we have been able to extend the concert to three nights and to use their fantastic location Frankie’s Jazz Club, where food will also be available. The Strong Women Strong Music Concerts are part of a month long celebration of women in jazz.

Mar 8 – Jennifer Scott, Laura Crema, Jaclyn Guillou, Jen Hodge, Sharon Minemoto, Karen Graves
Mar 10 – Karin Plato, Kate Hammett-Vaughan, Daphne Roubini, Jillian Lebeck, Geeta Das, Wendy Solloway
Mar 11 – Leora Cashe, Dawn Aitken, Andrea Superstein, Diane Lines, Wendy Solloway, Mili Hong

Location: Frankie’s Jazz Club, 765 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC
Time: 8pm-10pm – Performances start at 8pm.
Tickets: $20

Reservations for Frankie’s:
Admission at the door

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