Hekselman not only embraces the freedom of the format, but also excels both as an improviser and composer.

Gilad Hekselman
This Just In
Jazz Village

Gilad Hekselman - "This Just In"

The trio format can either be a jazz guitarist’s best friend or worst enemy. On one hand, it allows freedom—both harmonic and rhythmic—to reign supreme. In less capable hands, it comes off as more of a sink-or-swim proposition. With guitarist Gilad Hekselman’s latest output as a leader, This Just In, he not only embraces the freedom of the format, but also excels both as an improviser and composer.

Hekselman’s muscular, warm tone propels this collection of intricately arranged tunes. Focusing on mostly originals—with the two covers being Don Grolnick’s “Nothing Personal” and Alan Parsons’ “Eye in the Sky”—Hekselman explores each corner with a devout curiosity. Combining beautifully dissonant chord stabs with his admirable legato technique, he brings to mind both the conceptual nature of early Scofield tracks mixed with the forward propulsion of some of Pat Martino’s best work.

The mellow fingerstyle work on “Dreamers”—which demonstrates how tonally rich Ken Parker’s archtops can be—shows a subtle but more introspective side of Hekselman’s abilities. Even within the somewhat crowded NYC jazz scene, Hekselman is near the head of the pack in terms of tone, chops, and a deep sense of melodicism. Although this might not be his most engaging album as a leader, he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Must-hear track: “Eye in the Sky”

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