Gilad Hekselman, Far Star Review
By Sylvannia Garutch
Gilad Hekselman is an Israeli guitarist that hit the New York City jazz scene in 2004 and instantly began playing with Chris Potter, Eric Harland, Mark Turner, Anat Cohen, Ari Hoenig, Esperanza Spalding, Jeff Ballard, Ben Wendel, Gretchen Parlato, Ben Williams, Avishai Cohen, Tigran Hamasyan, Aaron Parks and Becca Stevens among many others. Hekselman has released nine critically acclaimed albums as a leader, many of which have made it into ‘best of the year’ lists in NY Times, Downbeat Magazine, Amazon, All About Jazz, and many other publications. He is now releasing his 10th record, Far Star, on Edition Records, which is all-originals in which Hekselman plays many instruments, and it features special guests such as Eric Harland, Shai Maestro, Ziv Ravitz, and more.
Hekselman’s originals are wide-reaching in their influences; the album opens with “Long Way From Home,’ a thoughtfully constructed excursion in a straight-eight jazz-pop-rock feel. Starting things out is a whistling melody carried through to some degree throughout the piece. Drummer Eric Harland makes a guest appearance on the selection. Hekselman improvises with relaxed phrasing and melodic ideas. The rhythmic chops of Harland propel the music as he accentuates various textures and crosscurrents. Hekselman performed bass, keyboards, and the guitar.
“I Didn’t Know” is Hekselman layering various acoustic guitar parts to create a melodic composition with a simple theme that is developed through the colorful harmonic territory. Hekselman’s keyboard sounds are subtle and add to the textures, as do Harland’s drums. Hekselman’s solo travels through wide-open spaces; the harmonic territory is atop a contemporary Island meets Latin rhythmic underpinning. Additionally, he exhibits a talent for pop/rock sounds with jazz playfulness.
Far Star shows many sides to Hekselman’s playing and composing. His effortless approach to soloing keeps things in a moving flow. However, some of the selections wander without a defined arch or melodic shaping. Nevertheless, the guitarist is very much at home on the multiple instruments, and the guest artists add a warm collaboration with modern compulsion.