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Gilad Hekselman: Homes

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Homes is the most contemplative and tender of Gilad Hekselman’s five records to date, and the one that comes closest to the hushed, elegant dynamics the guitarist so obviously admires in the long-term piano trios of Ahmad Jamal and Bill Evans. For the first time since his 2006 debut, the Israeli-born, NYC-based Hekselman has eschewed saxophone contributions from either Mark Turner or Joel Frahm, concentrating almost exclusively on trio interplay with bassist Joe Martin, who has been with him from the start, and drummer Marcus Gilmore, onboard for his fourth straight record. They provide a refreshing constant within the leader’s ambitious agenda.

As with Hekselman’s last album, This Just In, from 2013, the ostensible theme of Homes is bound by the connective tissue of brief, melodically kindred interludes dotted throughout the disc. But the “home” concept is projected strongly in other ways too, via the array of connotations of “home” found in the various tunes, and in the exquisite interior dialogue within each track. Among the Hekselman originals that comprise the first half, you hear it in the melodic construction and shading of “Verona” (home to Romeo and Juliet), the spectral twirl and restraint of the spacy “Cosmic Patience” and the rhythmic spunk of “Keedee,” named after the kidi drum from Ghana and featuring drummer Jeff Ballard alongside Gilmore. The refined sense of group adventure is likewise evident on the ensuing four covers. They range from the adroit bop and savoir faire of “Parisian Thoroughfare” to a stark yet spellbinding “Samba em Preludio” that reveals Hekselman’s mastery of Brazilian saudade, a vibe that continues on his rendition of Pat Metheny’s “Last Train Home,” which pugnaciously resurrects the frequent Metheny comparisons Hekselman endures.

Even before Homes, Martin and Gilmore erected suitably innovative frames for Hekselman’s remarkably efficient virtuosity. The absence of a horn, and a couple more years of experience, have raised the trio’s intimacy and expertise another notch.

Originally Published