There may not be any stronger melodies in jazz today than the lines flowing out of Gilad Hekselman’s guitar. Hekselman’s new album, Homes, displays his melodicism and songwriting as well as the continued growth of his trio with Joe Martin on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. Homes is the fourth album with this core trio, starting with 2008’s Words Unspoken, and their rapport has continued to grow with time. While the previous albums from Hekselman have featured either Joel Frahm’s or Mark Turner’s sax, this album is strictly a guitar-bass-drums affair, though one track features both Marcus Gilmore and Jeff Ballard on drums and another substitutes Ballard for Gilmore on the drumset.
After a short introductory track, “Homes”, (more on that later), the album opens with “Verona”, a Hekselman original. The melody on this is as strong as anything in the guitarist’s formidable repertoire, adding to earlier earworms like “One More Song”, “March of the Sad Ones”, and “Hazelnut Eyes.” After the tune’s head draws you in, Joe Martin’s bass takes the first solo of the record and the trio is off and running from there.
“Verona” is followed by “Keedee”, featuring both Jeff Ballard and Marcus Gilmore on drums. That setup sounds exciting, and the recording more than meets expectations with a great rhythmic back-and-forth between the drummers. The middle of this record has a spacy feel, starting (appropriately) with “Space”, the introduction to “Cosmic Patience”. On the album version of the tune, Hekselman overdubs a second guitar line with a crunchier tone for a solo. This tune was introduced for a 2014 performance by Hekselman explaining that he was thinking of the planets spinning in space, and the tune definitely does evoke that feeling.
“Cosmic Patience”, June 29, 2014 with Reuben Rogers and Ferenc Nemeth
The trio’s version of Bud Powell’s “Parisian Thoroughfare” includes a solid walking bassline, fluid guitar lines, and an excellent drum solo from Gilmore. Another highlight of the album is “Samba Em Preludio”, with more beautiful, melodic soloing from Hekselman as his guitar weaves two lines together in an upper and lower register.
In addition to the tunes on the album and some great soloing, Homes also benefits from a cohesiveness. The brief opening track, “Homes”, introduces a melodic riff that is re-visited on the solo track “Home E-Minor” and the closing track on the album, “Place Like No Home”. These songs are sprinkled through the album, tying it all together. Listening to these three tunes in sequence reveals the ways that Hekselman twists and reconfigures this melody – check how the opening phrase on “Homes” finds a mirror image to close the album on “Place Like No Home”.
Homes is another fantastic album from the Gilad Hekselman trio, building on the foundation that has been growing over years. Pick it up when the album comes out on October 9.
CD Release Celebrations:
October 2 – Cornelia Street Cafe with Joe Martin, Marcus Gilmore
October 5 – Small’s Jazz Club with Joe Martin, Marcus Gilmore
November 6 – Bronx Museum with Reuben Rogers, Ferenc Nemeth
These US shows will be followed by a European tour with Joe Martin and Justin Brown that begins on November 18 – more info on Hekselman’s website.