Primary Instrument: Guitar
Since his arrival to New York in 2004, Gilad Hekselman has been earning a reputation as one of the most promising guitarists in New York. In only three years this native Israeli has shared the stage with many top names from the New York jazz scene including Gretchen Parlato, Chris Potter, Greg Hutchinson, Reuben Rogers, Ari Hoenig, Joel Frahm, Joe Martin, Jeff 'Tain' Watts, Jonathan Blake, Anat Cohen, Jason Lindner, Avishai Cohen, Joe Cohn, Omer Avital, Mark Ferber, Kendrick Scott, Matt Brewer, Hans Glawischnig, Eric McPhearson and François Moutin. He has played the Blue Note, The Jazz Gallery, Smalls, 55 Bar, Dizzy's Club, Minton's Playhouse, Fat Cat and toured in Switzerland, Norway, Spain, and Israel. He has also played in world famous Jazz festivals such as Montreux JF, Duke Ellington JF, San Francisco JF and Tel Aviv JF.
Gilad is the Winner of the 2005 Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition. A string of performance dates followed that achievement in 2006, highlighted by the Gibson Les Paul guitar he received from Claude Nobs: he opened for guitar legend Paco De Lucia at the Montreux Jazz Festival, performed at the IAJE conference in New York, at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola - Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Gilad's debut album SplitLife released by Smalls Records in the summer of 2006 and featuring bassist Joe Martin and drummer Ari Hoenig, received rave reviews from the press. The CD can be purchased directly from Gilad on his shows or online.
Born in Israel in 1983, Gilad studied classical piano from age six to nine before going on to guitar and from age 12 to 14 he was performing regularly with the band of a weekly children's television show. At 15 he entered the Thelma Yellin School of Arts, graduating with Excellence from the Jazz Department at 18. In 2004 Gilad started attending the New School for Jazz and Contemporary music. Gilad is also a recipient of the America Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship for studies abroad.
possessing a distinctive lyricism and easily embraceable artfulness that seems to reach beyond his years... Hekselman has a pristine, crystalline sound and a bright playing style that seems as natural and sustaining as air and water... Imagine a brightly lit day, sunlight on water - you are there. If Monet’s waterlily studies were music this could be it... Hekselman performs with a quiet assertiveness and expertise that is winning throughout...
Laurel Gross, All About Jazz
“...Gilad Hekselman's SplitLife (Smalls Records) is everything one could hope for in a debut release. The Israeli-born guitarist shows maturity beyond his years... In terms of time feel, technique, tone projection and linear and chordal sophistication, Hekselman is clearly poised to reach the highest ranks on his instrument.”
David Adler, Jazz Times
“Hekselman is a subtle player who holds the spotlight with tasteful runs. He seeks out transcendental lines and often finds them... Hekselman doesn't clamor for attention. His playing, though, is quietly persuasive.
Karl Stark, Philadelphia Inquirer
“The debut recording by guitarist Gilad Hekselman has the youth displaying a mature sound, the ability to think fast, and an inventive use of space.”
Scott Yanow, Allmusic
“... some people are so damned talented at so tender an age. Move over Scott LaFaro, Charlie Christian, and Jaco Pastorius for Gilad Hekselman... demonstrated to any discerning guitar-centric listener that there is indeed room for another mover and shaker. I don’t think I can overestimate the 23-year old’s... talents... ability to express emotional force in a quiet setting... promising composer...his unpretentious earnestness that sets him apart from anyone else who might come to mind...this young man is in the business of making beautiful music... In terms of technical ability one should note his contrapuntal lines incorporated into the aforementioned ballad, and his flawless, liquid delivery and clean, mid-range tone. In other words, this unassuming upstart seems to have it all... a mature, young man with the best intentions and a warm heart big enough to slay any giant on the horizon”
Charles Winokoor, Cadence Magazine
“...Martin and Hoenig fuse with Hekselman on every level • technically, emotionally and spiritually • to create music that is very much in the moment... It's said that with great musicians, the greatness lies not in the notes they play, but in the notes they don’t play. Split Life is a textbook testament to the truth of that statement.”
Roman St. James, jazzreview.com
“Who needs a second guitarist when you have fingers like these?“
Bob Keelaghan, Guitar One Magazine