If Gilad Hekselman's previous releases caused a few ripples then his fourth album, This Just In should make a splash. The Israeli-born, New York-based guitarist has garnered attention as a rising fret-board wizard from the wellspring of notable peers such as Lage Lund and Miles Okazaki; fresh voices with plenty of technique but of equal importance are forward thinking outlooks. While it's hard to shed the similarities to other guitar notables, Hekselman clearly has what it takes to carve out his own name.
While 2011's Hearts Wide Open (Le Chant du Monde) presented an assortment of pallets from straight-ahead and blues pieces, to folkloric and African themes, there's an edgier and more memorable vibe to this release. This is due in part to the gelling of Hekselman's trio who reprises the taut rhythm section of bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore and tenor sax stylist Mark Turner who guests on a couple of tracks.
There's also the album's thematic imprint which takes a cue from today's heightened media news cycle: a number of brief improvisational "news flashes" interspersed between longer compositions. "Newflash #1" sets up the title piece, a cooker with Hekselman delivering fusion distorted runs à laAllan Holdsworth as Turner provides his typical serpentine horn magic.
Each news flash and story creates a unique mood as found in the synth-colored "Newsflash #2" which segues into the nocturnal dream-like track "The Ghost Of The North," that's painted with synthesized touches and Martin's lyrical bass or the gently swaying "March Of The Sad Ones" that might imagine a quiet setting on the French Riviera as the musicians play with supple finesse.
Hekselman and Turner's affinity is reminiscent of the saxophonist's past work with Kurt Rosenwinkel on the swinging cover of "Nothing Personal" as the two musicians react symbiotically to each other's lyricism. Accolades should also be awarded to Martin's viscous bass work and Gilmore's percussive fireworks in "Above," also a stylish remake of the 1983 pop rock hit "Eye In the Sky" by the Alan Parsons Project. Hekselman's prowess as a complete guitarist is further evinced in "Dreamers" where his skill on acoustic is just as impressive. With This Just In, the news flash is a positive one with this memorable release.
Track Listing: Gilad Hekselman; guitar, synthesizers, glockenspiel; Joe Martin: bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums;
Mark Turner: tenor saxophone (3, 9, 13).
Personnel: Above; Newsflash #1; This Just In; Newsflash #2; The Ghost Of The North; Newsflash #3;
March Of The Sad Ones; Newsflash #4; Nothing Personal; Eye in The Sky; Newsflash #5;
Dreamers; This Just Out.
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