Gilad Hekselman was born in Israel February 3, 1983 in Kfar Saba, and he grew up in Alfey Menashe. He began on piano at age six, and guitar at age nine. From ages 12-14 he performed regularly on two television programs on the Children Channel in Israel, where his fellow musicians introduced him to playing jazz. He attended Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts, a national magnet school also attended over the years by a number of notable Israeli jazz musicians. Several graduates of Yellin – including Omer Avital, Avi Leibovich, and Eli Digibri – migrated to New York in the mid-1990s, attended The New School, and ultimately became frequent performers at Smalls. Hekselman, who arrived at The New School in 2004, and who has been recently featured at Smalls, is the latest to become a part of that legacy.

His musical influences are diverse. Guitar enthusiasts might compare Hekselman with guitar masters such as Pat Metheny, Kurt Rosenwinkel, John Scofield, or Peter Bernstein. And I think many will agree with me that he will be added to that list in short order. But as much as Gilad respects other guitarists, he points to pianists Bill Evans and Ahmad Jamal (as well as John Coltrane) as his principal influences, and he carries some of a pianist’s sensibilities into his music. The way he accompanies himself reflects the pianist’s notion of left-hand/right-hand independence. Sometimes he’ll use piano voicings that are uncommon on guitar. Aside from having influences in the music of his native environs, Gilad studied North Indian classical music with sarod player Sanjay Sharma, acquiring in the process a distinctive rhythmic emphasis in his music.

Appears on Gilad Hekselman / SplitLife

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