At his CD release gig at the Jazz Standard in NYC last month, one of the things that guitarist Gilad Hekselman revealed to me about the making of his fourth album This Just In was that “all of the pieces were recorded with the band together in the studio, without even the separation of booths,” which is a significant distinction since it creates an immediacy and creative bond between musicians – something that comes through loud and clear on this recording. Central to the album’s success is the communication that Hekselman has with bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore, two of the most versatile sidemen in New York as well as tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, who plays on three tracks.
Besides his role as an in demand sideman for Anat Cohen, Chris Potter and Esperanza Spalding, the Israeli native has wowed critics and listeners alike with his guitar chops. His strikingly original material creates sounds similar to Kurt Rosenwinkel and Pat Metheny, but Hekselman weaves his own fresh textures and colors into songs like “March Of The Sad Ones,” a tune with a low-pitched groove under a multi-cultural melody that pulls you into its moment. Hekselman burns on jam-like originals, but his covers of Alan Parson’s “Eye In The Sky” and “Nothing Personal” (by the late Don Grolnick and popularized by Michael Brecker) are bursting with good feelings. Throughout the disc, Gilmore, the grandson of legendary drummer Roy Haynes, plays beats that spill over the soundstage with characteristic aplomb. He’s energized and always tight.
The arch concept behind This Just In is that Hekselman strings his tunes along as newsworthy items as if coming across a news crawl and some of the album’s razzle-dazzle comes from the electro-acoustic dialogue between the guitarist and Gilmore, who create a juicy friction on the five brief “Newsflash” interstitials, a mainstay on hip-hop and pop records that find a natural fit here. Overall, the album gives us a more assertive and looser Hekselman, as if the material was freed from its mooring and boldly steered into choppier waters, albeit with the leader firmly in control. (13 tracks; 51 minutes)