An Up-and-Coming Guitarist Curates

The Playlist: Gilad Hekselman’s Definitive Jazz Albums

November 11, 2015 Culture : Music By

Jazz guitarist Gilad Hekselman has created quite a buzz in the jazz community. In 2004, he arrived in New York, a student in his early twenties who had just received the America-Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship to attend The New School in New York. In 2005, Hekselman won the Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition and the following year, he opened for legendary flamenco player Paco de Lucia at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In 2006, he released his debut album Splitlife to enthusiastic reviews.

Hekselman has performed with many jazz greats including John Scofield and Mark Turner, and in 2012 he was featured on Esperanza Spalding’s Grammy-winning album “Radio Music Society.” Released in 2013 on JazzVillage, a sub-label of the revered Harmonia Mundi, Hekselman’s fourth album, This Just In, shows the guitarist’s growth and refinement in a very short time. Hekselman crafts his complex solos on guitars built by Victor Baker, now the Head Luthier at D’Angelico. Jazz Times says of Hekselman, “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.” To honor those that came before, here’s his favorite jazz albums.

Streaming Jazz

Vinyl on the Interwebs

Miles Davis

Filles de Kilimanjaro

“One of my favorite Miles Davis recordings — super creative, non-apologetic playing and amazing compositions.”

Bill Evans

Portrait in Jazz

“One of Bill’s best works in my opinion. His iconic trio at its best, exploring innovative ways to play in the classic piano trio setting.”

Wes Montgomery

Smoking at the Half Note

“One of my very first jazz guitar records that will always have a sweet place in my heart. Wes can just play melodies in the sweetest way and swing so hard! And the rhythm section is one of my favorites; Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb.”

Oliver Nelson

Blues And The Abstract Truth

“Such a cool combination of some of my favorite musicians that really compliment each other!”

Wayne Shorter

Speak No Evil

“One of the maestro’s best recordings if you ask me. At some points it reaches such intensity I still have to go ‘Woooo’ even after hearing it hundreds of times!”

Additional Listening
1. John Coltrane Living Space – “One of Coltrane’s not-so-well-known records, but music that just moves your entire being.”
2. Gonzalo Rubalcaba 21st Century – “I feel like Gonzalo has reached a new level of playing the piano. I don’t know of anyone else who can do the things he does on the instrument. The subtlety and richness of his sound, and his harmonies are just out of this world. And, my man Marcus Gilmore on the drums is, as always, just off the hook!”
3. Chick Corea’s Electric Band II Paint The World – “A great record, a bit dated but I love that too for nostalgic reasons. Super advanced composition and great soloing all around.”
4. Ahmad Jamal At the Pershing – But Not for Me – “A classic. For about six months in my early twenties, I was listening to this record on repeat. It’s simply addictive, elegant and creative.”

Albums to Collect

Get the Most Out of Your Hi-Fi System

Ray Charles & Betty Carter – ‘Dedicated To You’


“Phrasing and soulfulness at their highest form. Beautiful arrangements of great songs and melodies sung with a ton of honesty and subtlety.”

Art Blakey – ‘Impulse!’


“I think I can sing every little note on this record. Just an amazing album from beginning to end with every solo telling a story.”

Charles Mingus – ‘Mingus Dynasty’


“This band has this magical combination of super advanced musicality, yet it’s all still rooted in the blues. The feel and the chaos that music, as life, can offer.”

Brad Mehldau – ‘Art of the Trio III’


“One of those records that changed my life. Hearing the new possibilities this band presented within a piano trio setting was, and still is, very inspiring to me.”

Jim Hall, Tom Harrell – ‘These Rooms’


“The master of developing ideas and making the guitar sound like many other instruments. This record has some very adventurous composing and great playing by all.”

Keith Jarrett – ‘My Song’


“Keith is always amazing. It was really hard to choose one Keith record to list here, but this one has some melodies that changed my life. I also love the Standard Trio.”

The Larry Goldings Trio – ‘As One’


“This is a very special organ-guitar-drums-trio with one of my favorite guitarists, Peter Bernstein, and the incredible drummer Bill Stewart. They stretch a lot on this one which is why it’s my favorite recording from this trio.”

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