Reviews and Recommended Jazz by Nick Bewsey

Category: Gilad Hekselman

Gilad Hekselman, Homes

Homes (Jazz Village) is an extraordinary jazz trio record of undisputed beauty and talent. Guitarist Gilad Hekselman, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore have played as a unit for nearly ten years, honing a brotherly collaboration that conjures up Ahmad Jamal and Bill Evans’ trios, two of his most significant influences. Homes is his fifth record and it’s superb, thematically coalescing around a sense of place as much as places of the heart. Hekselman’s melodic compositions are infused with gentle phrasing that skim undulating waves set in motion by Martin and Gilmore. The use of electric and acoustic guitars give the album layers of sonic luster that are most apparent on the lush “Samba em Preludio” and “Cosmic Patience.” His version of Bud Powell’s classic “Parisian Thoroughfare” is all aces—while Martin swings fiercely and Gilmore lets loose on his kit, Hekselman carves out an adventurous solo, careening through the changes. Brad Mehldau’s drummer, Jeff Ballard, subs for Gilmore on two tunes — dazzling on the ricocheting rhythms on “KeeDee” and in a duo format, underscoring Hekselman’s stalwart originality on a percolating, brilliant version of Pat Metheny’s “Last Train Home.” (12 tracks; 57 minutes)



A TOP JAZZ RECORD OF 2014: Recently, there’s been no shortage of excellent, forward-looking jazz albums led by drummers. For jazz fans who put groove and swing in their plus columns, Grammy®-winner Terri Lyne Carrington, Kendrick Scott, Antonio Sanchez, Matt Wilson and Rudy Royston are taking music to new and satisfying heights. You can add Ulysses Owens, Jr. to this exceptional lineup – he’s a drummer determined to blaze his own trail with sonically inspired beats. Continue reading


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.

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The prologue and epilogue of “Hearts Wide Open” (Chant du Monde Records) may be dusted with carefree whistling but in between the guitarist Gilad Hekselman arrays eight seriously great originals that gracefully expand the horizons of jazz guitar with melodious rock and folk influences. His phrasing has a satisfying fullness while his solos have a way of connecting deeply. Songs like “Hazelnut Eyes” and “The Bucket Kicker” match the guitarist with bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore and the musical effect is that of a larger band where Hekselman’s silky arrangements and orderly runs are skillfully underscored by nimble bass notes and percussive rhythms. Other tracks add saxophonist Mark Turner to the mix, most effectively on “One More Song,” a whirling folk-inspired narrative with a melodic hook that the saxophonist turns over and over on the chorus. Drummer Gilmore invokes the usual awe with his profound timekeeping. His fills and dexterous sense of swing is starkly evident on “Brooze,” a slow blues with a lazy gait and a hot center that’s set afire by Hekselman’s electrifying solo. Somewhat unusual for a jazz record, the guitarist makes room for a power ballad called “Understanding” that heaves under a sturdy backbeat and emotive melody that signifies the guitarist’s cool confidence. An Israeli native and New Yorker since 2004, Hekselman successfully plumbs the zeitgeist of his peers, striking a perfect balance on “Hearts Wide Open” between accessibility and the improvised go-anywhere storytelling that is progressive jazz. (10 tracks; 60:14 minutes)


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