Derek Wright has been a musician all of his life. He started his training thanks to a vibrant music program in the public elementary school he attended in Amherst, MA. Growing up in New Orleans, he was a jazz bassist at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, a saxophonist, and percussionist. In 1993 he moved to Madison, WI to pursue majors in computer science and physics, and to continue his studies of jazz and bass with Richard Davis. Through his interests in improvisation and modal music, Derek began learning Turkish, Arabic, Armenian, and Afghan music in the mid 1990s, and started playing the oud in 1997. His oud teachers have included Solomon Feldthouse and Ali Sinan Erdemsel. In 2002, Derek moved to the Bay Area and began studying North Indian classical music (both vocal and instrumental) with Maestro Ali Akbar Khan. He has continued to study at the Ali Akbar College of Music, using the oud in the style of
Derek is also a passionate student, performer, and teacher of Brazilian music (mostly percussion and vocal). In 1995 he began his studies of many styles from the vast musical heritage of Brazil and has traveled there multiple times to learn, focusing especially on maracatu, afoxe, samba, samba reggae, and the Ketu and Nago candomble traditions. He started teaching and co-leading a group in Madison, WI in 1998, and has incorporated body music into his teaching from the beginning. In 2003 he founded a Brazilian percussion ensemble in the Bay Area, which is now known as Maracatu Luta. Derek regularly accompanies, studies and performs with Brazilian masters who live in the Bay Area, including Jorge Alabe (Candomble drumming and song, samba), Rosangela Silvestre (Orixa dance movement and Silvestre Technique), percussionists from Ile Aiye, and visiting faculty at California Brazil Camp (which Derek has attended since 2002 and been on staff as a teacher and dance accompanist since 2006). Accompanying Rosangela Silvestre's dance classes has been an opportunity to combine the many aspects of his improvisational musicality, including Indian ragas, Brazilian rhythms and melodies, New Orleans groove, and much more.
In addition to his training and practice with music, Derek is a certified practitioner and instructor of Breema, a system of bodywork and exercises that has been called "The Art of Being Present". Using both music and Breema as a way to bring the mind and body together is a major focus of his life, and he incorporates Self-Breema exercises, body music rhythm exercises, and percussion into his teaching.