Gilad Hekselman is perhaps the finest example of why I go back and review releases that are not exactly new...While not six months old, Hearts Wide Open has received well deserved critical acclaim and with a new release in the offering later this summer this is still a release deserving of attention.
For the uninitiated Hekselman is guitarist originally from Israel and currently residing in New York City. But who does he sound like? While that question continues to annoy more than one can possibly imagine the best explanation is that his sound has been compared to Pat Metheny and Kurt Rosenwinkel. The best answer is that Hekselman sounds like himself, a searching artist with a keen harmonic sense and the technical proficiency to place him at the top of heap of budding six string jazz stars.
Hearts Wide Open is Hekselman's third release but first release to feature all original compositions. The 4tet is rounded out with Mark Turner on tenor saxophone, Joe Martin on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. "Hazelnut Eyes" which essentially opens the release sets a nice melodic mood for deceptively subtle yet harmonically deep release. Turner and his tenor saxophone join in on "One More Song" where the true working band feel begins to take shape. Gilmore provides an infectious groove and lays in the pocket quiet well as Turner and Hekselman take extended solo's on a lyrically driven gem. "Hearts Wide Open" is the title track and an expansive piece occasionally bordering on the cinematic without every approaching the dangerous self indulgent level. The tune develops in a very natural progression with nothing forced. Less is more and notes are not wasted by anyone is this formidable 4tet. It is perhaps Hekselman's comping ability as a guitarist and his unique approach to the instrument that is heavily influenced from his main influences which include Ahmad Jamal, Bill Evans and more recently Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau. Given the influences listed, Hekselman's harmonic proficiency is certainly understandable.
An incredibly solid and extremely consistent offering from Hekselman has this critic incredibly anxious for the next release due out later this summer. Most people expect a jazz critic to either own or have heard every release currently available. In the day of the digital download and an artist driven marketplace there are the odd releases that slip past us. Hearts Wide Open is certainly worthy of critical acclaim and is a release well worth your time to rediscover.
Tracks: Prologue; Hazelnut Eyes; One More Song; Flower; Brooze; Hearts Wide Open; The Bucket Kicker; Understanding; Will You Let It?; Epilogue.
Personnel: Gilad Hekselman: guitar; Mark Turner: tenor saxophone; Joe Martin: bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums.