Gilad Hekselman has established himself as one of the leading voices in jazz guitar. Only a few years after his arrival to NY in 2004, this native Israeli was already sharing stages with some of the greatest artists in the New York City jazz scene including Chris Potter, Eric Harland, Mark Turner, Anat Cohen, Ari Hoenig, Esperanza Spalding, Jeff Ballard, Ben Wendel, Gretchen Parlato, Avishai Cohen, Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, Tigran Hamasyan, Aaron Parks, Becca Stevens, John Scofield, Terri Lyne Carrington, Danilo Perez and Peter Bernstein among many others.
In May 2019, Hekselman featured his quartet at the legendary NYC venue The Village Vanguard. He has also been playing all other major jazz clubs in New York City, including the Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, Dizzy’s Club and Smalls. He is constantly touring world-wide and has played most noteworthy jazz festivals and venues including Montreux, North Sea, Montreal & SFJazz to name a few.
Ask For Chaos, Gilad’s most recent full length album, was released on Sep 7th, 2018 on his new label, Hexophonic Music in collaboration with Motema Music label. It features both of his new working bands: ZuperOctave (feat. Aaron Parks on piano and keys and Kush Abadey on drums) which is a bass-less band that explores electronics with the goal of keeping the music organic and flexible, and the gHex Trio (feat. Rick Rosato on bass and Jonathan Pinson on drums) which continues the classic guitar trio sound that Gilad has become known for while also bringing something fresh to the music. This record was followed by an EP named Further Chaos, released in May 2019 and featuring the same personnel.
Gilad is the recipient of several prestigious awards and recognitions. In 2017, Gilad placed first in the Rising Star category of Downbeat Magazine. That same year, he won the 7 Virtual Jazz Club international competition 2017. In 2018 Gilad was asked by guitar legend Pat Metheny to perform as part of his NEA Award ceremony at The Kennedy Center, alongside some of Metheny’s other favorite young guitar players. Gilad is also the winner of the 2005 Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition, which led to a string of performances including opening for guitar legend Paco de Lucia with his trio at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2006.
Gilad began his prolific recording career in 2006 with the release of his debut album, SplitLife (Smalls Records), recorded with bassist Joe Martin and drummer Ari Hoenig. It received rave reviews from the press as did his second album, Words Unspoken (LateSet Records), recorded and released in 2008 with Joe Martin, drummer Marcus Gilmore and tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm.
In 2009, Gilad recorded three tracks for Walt Disney Records, one of which was included in the record Everybody Wants To Be a Cat (2011). The album features versions of Disney songs played by a top-shelf lineup of musicians including Dave Brubeck, Joshua Redman, Esperanza Spalding, Diane Reeves, Roy Hargrove, Kurt Rosenwinkel, The Bad Plus and many other jazz legends.
In the spring of 2010 Gilad recorded his third album, Hearts Wide Open, with Joe Martin on bass, Marcus Gilmore on drums and world-renowned saxophonist Mark Turner. The record received rave reviews globally and was featured in many Best-of-2011 lists such as The New York Times, Amazon and iTunes. Then in April of 2013, Gilad released his fourth album, This Just In, under the JazzVillage label of Harmonia Mundi with the same quartet. Gilad’s fifth record, Homes, was released in 2015 on the same label. It features his longstanding trio with Martin and Gilmore, plus 2 tracks with the great Jeff Ballard on drums.
Born in Israel in 1983, Gilad studied classical piano from age 6 and began studying guitar at the age of 9. From age 12 to 14 he performed regularly with the band of a weekly children’s television show. He attended the prestigious Thelma Yellin School of Arts, graduating with excellence from the jazz department at age 18. Gilad received the America – Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship for studies abroad to attend The New School in New York, where he completed his BFA in performing arts in 2008.
“The guitarist Gilad Hekselman has a vision of modern jazz that’s harmonically fluent but not averse to simple melody or gentle, approachable effect.” — The New York Times
“It is obvious to me that Hekselman is one of the most intelligent, quietly accomplished guitarists I could hope to listen to. He breathes life into his music through his incomparable skill and devotion.” — UK Vibe