Gilad Hekselman has been praised as one of the best young guitarists in New York City. In 2013, he was named an international rising star in DownBeat, so in the spirit of cosmopolitanism, here are some reviews from far-flung publications: “This 30 year old Israeli has no competition amongst the guitarist of his generation” (Die Zeit [Germany]); “…one of the best guitarists of a new generation of talented musicians” (Jazzmag [France]); “…one of the most promising guitarists on the New York jazz scene” (The Times of Malta); “a terrific guitarist and, more importantly, an amazing musician” (Haaretz [Israel]).
Hekselman’s 2011 release Hearts Wide Open was named one of the top 10 albums of the year by New York Times critic Nate Chinen. Reviewing that album in the same newspaper, Ben Ratliff wrote that Hekselman is “on a good road, and he’s still moving.” In 2013 he released This Just In, a mostly trio record that was loosely structured on a news broadcast, to positive reviews.
Although Hekselman possesses astounding technique, what stands out in his playing is restraint. He has a sensitive touch with a penchant for dramatic sweeps of phrase, and his style is particularly suited to his lyrical compositions, which are suffused with clear and strong mood. Equally adept at playing lines, setting up riffs, shredding, and creating rubato melodies that float over the rhythm section, he’s a guitarist with something to offer to different types of listeners. Speaking to Doug Fischer of the Ottawa Citizen, Hekselman said, “I am always looking for a balance between complexity and emotion, something that can connect me to an audience and also keep them interested. It’s not about being flashy.”
Hekselman has always had a penchant for a cerebral foil, including saxophonist Mark Turner, who played on both Hearts Wide Open and This Just In. Here’s a video of Hekselman’s quartet playing for WBGO’s live series The Checkout.
Here’s a playful rendition of “Groovin’ High” featuring Hekselman and pianist Shai Maestro, who will be joining Hekselman Friday night in an unusual guitar-piano-drums trio.
The Gilad Hekselman Trio performs this Friday, December 5th, 2014, at The Jazz Gallery. The trio features Hekselman on guitar, Shai Maestro on piano, and Henry Cole on drums. Sets are at 8 and 10 p.m., $22 general admission ($12 for Members). Purchase tickets here.