Derf Reklaw is a multi instrumentalist, composer, dancer, choreographer, inventor, educator and historian born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.
Derf played in the bands of the Phil Cochran, the Legendary Pharaohs, Lionel Hampton, Phil Upchurch, Eddie Harris, Ahmad Jamal, Aretha Franklin, Donnie Hathaway, Gene Ammons, Ben Branch, the AACM, Barry White and others while living in Chicago.
Derf has been on over 200 records by artists such as Jackie Wilson, Etta James, Della Reese, Janet Dubois, Fred Wesley, Leslie Drayton, Dwight Trible, Larry Dunn, Jerry Butler, Terry Callier, Betty Davis (Miles exwife), Noel Pointer, Cleveland Eaton, Young Holt Unlimited, Pharaoh Sanders, Oscar Brown Jr., Howling Wolf, Jermaine Jackson, Janet Jackson, New Orleans Symphony, Burton Cummings and others.
In 1999, the BBC reported that Randy Weston and Derf Reklaw were the only two musicians born in the United States that the BBC considered World Musicians.
As a composer, Derf's composition Camino El Bueno, recorded by Ramsey Lewis, was the theme song for Tony Brown's Black Journal on PBS. "We See" written by Derf from his own album "From the Nile", was used in the movie Leimert Park. Other songs written by Derf that were on the charts were "Get On Down" (Eddie Harris), "Spider-Man" (Ramsey Lewis), "Dream Ride"(George Howard). Derf's "Hepty Baby" from his album "Ship of the Desert" was the original theme song for BET's Video Soul. Derf was the first musician to perform live on Tokyo MTV.
Derf was a musician in UCLA Dance and World Art and Culture Dept. Two of his songs "Oasis" and "Hepty Baby" have been used for UCLA Art and Architecture Dept .
Derf was the choreographer for the Mavin Gaye dancers. When Derf was a teenager he created a dance that was a Midwest craze which led to 3 recordings.
He has taught music at View Park Academy, Havard Westlake, Cowan Elementary School and at The World Stage.