With Ask for Chaos, acclaimed guitarist Gilad Hekselman (who claimed the #1 spot in the Rising Star-Guitar Category in the 2017 DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll) takes a bold new turn, inspired by two new and quite disparate trio configurations. "The album title is not necessarily a description of the music," he says, "but the environment in which the music was made. In these bands we don't look for one way to do something, we always look for new ways. We like the instability and chaotic feeling of that. Also, with my becoming a father in 2017, it's affected my music and life in very intense ways. And of course politically, what's going on right now is chaotic. Ask for Chaos says that from chaos can come new things, in music and in life. You ask for chaos in order to make progress."
From the dawn of his career, Hekselman has nourished deep relationships with bandmates and strived to keep his music fresh and unexpected. His long-running work with bassist Joe Martin, from his debut SplitLife to his output with Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore on Words Unspoken, Hearts Wide Open, This Just In and most recently Homes (2015), revealed a guitarist with tremendous facility, a rich sound and boundless imagination as a composer. The New York Times hailed him as an artist "who favors clarity of tone and purpose, and who surrounds himself with strong talent."
Ask for Chaos
is the first release from the guitarist's new label, Hexophonic Music, in collaboration with Motema Music. "I look at my favorite artists from the '60s and '70s and see how many records they made," Hekselman marvels. "Having my own outlet for recordings couldn't be more liberating. I've always had more ideas than time and means to put them on records. This move will allow me to dream beyond the limitation of what I am expected to do, and when I am expected to do it."
Hekselman sequenced the new album with the two trios interspersed, resulting in sonic surprise but also a seamless aesthetic unity. Of the gHex Trio, with Rick Rosato on bass and Jonathan Pinson on drums, Hekselman says: "Rick and Jonathan are giving a whole new dimension to my music. I tell them they have to keep me on my toes. I don't want to find a way to play a tune - to me, the way to play a tune is to not have a way, to find a new one every time. They're amazing at that and they love it too."
About ZuperOctave, featuring pianist/keyboardist Aaron Parks and drummer Kush Abadey in a charged, edgy electric setting, the guitarist remarks: "I've played in a lot of bands without bass and I've noticed that it has become a part of my sound that I still haven't documented under my own name. When I got a grant from the Jazz Gallery, I wrote a bunch of music for that instrumentation. I wanted Aaron because he understood that I wasn't trying to do a fusion band, I didn't want something too rigid. I wanted it to go places. Kush was very open to that as well and they both bring a lot of openness and breath into the music"
Ask for Chaos marks Hekselman's first use of piano on record, and Parks' vibrant mix of acoustic, electric and synthesizer makes for an uncommonly textured and adventurous result. "Aaron and I share the bass duties," he points out. "It's either nobody plays bass, or I have this octave pedal, the Boss OC3 Super Octave, that I use behind Parks' solos, and he has keyboards that he uses to play bass lines." Abadey's blend of drum kit and electronic pads also gives ZuperOctave a thoroughly modern sound, perfectly suited to the complex and rhythmically cutting-edge music Hekselman brings to the table.
Following an ethereal and effects-heavy guitar "Prologu00001101" we hear ZuperOctave launch into "VBlues," with its asymmetrical rhythms and McCoy Tyner-esque modern blues harmony. Parks, with a distorted Fender Rhodes sound, stretches over the form before yielding to Hekselman's heated yet lyrical turn. ZuperOctave returns on four additional tracks: "Tokyo Cookie," in deeply grooving 5/4, with involved melodic parts that take time to unfold, intersect and combine; "Stumble," a dreamy even-eighth piece based on Wayne Shorter's "Fall"; "Home to You," with solos trading back and forth in a dazzling spiral between guitar and piano; and the vivacious "Clap Clap," spurred by Hekselman's desire "to write something with two claps like those summer hits on the radio."
The gHex Trio appears on four tracks, beginning with "It Will Get Better," a slightly sad theme with folk-like harmonies and a pure, lilting melody. "It was written when my wife was still pregnant with our son," Hekselman says. "The thought of bringing a child into the world at the time of Trump's inauguration was heavy on me. The title is a promise I don't know if I have the power to fulfill, but part of my duty as a musician is to help things go in that direction. I wrote this to express my wish for what the world could be."
The bright, Brazilian-influenced "Milton" reflects Hekselman's deep appreciation for Milton Nascimento, while the brief yet impactful "Little Song for You" has a loosely phrased melodic construction reminiscent of Ornette Coleman. "Do Re Mi Fa Sol," which Hekselman calls "a love song to music," closes the album in a lyrical, almost country-ish vein, with a whistled refrain and a sumptuous overdubbed string arrangement performed by Duncan Wickeland arranged by Petros Klampanis.
With Ask for Chaos, Hekselman makes radical departures while holding true to the core of the sound he's been refining for years. Exhibiting his "unusual command of touch and dynamics" and his fluency "in a diverse, enthralling jazz vocabulary" (JazzTimes), he juxtaposes two trios with starkly contrasting tonal characters and derives from them a unity of artistic purpose.
(feat. Rick Rosato, Jonathan Pinson)
JULY 2 @ Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreal, QB, Canada (feat. Mark Turner)
JULY 8 @ Brosella Jazz Festival, Brussels, Belgium
JULY 10 @ Sunside, Paris, France (USE DISCOUNT CODE: 20GH107)
JULY 11 @ Sunside, Paris, France (USE DISCOUNT CODE: 20GH117)
JULY 13 @ North Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam, Netherlands
JULY 14 @ Cowbell Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Valby, Denmark
JULY 15 @ Aarhus Jazz Festival, Aarhus, Denmark
JULY 17 @ Chiostro San Francesco, Andria, Italy
JULY 18 @ Peperoncino Jazz Festival, Castrovillari, Italy
JULY 19 @ Canaria Islands Festilal, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
JULY 20 @ Canaria Islands Festival, Arrecife, Spain
JULY 21 @ Canaira Islands Festival, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
AUG 4 @ Jazz at the Maverick, Woodstock, NY duet with Fred Hersch USA
AUG 20 @ Smalls, New York, USA
AUG 21@ Smalls, New York, USA
*** (feat. Aaron Parks & Kendrick Scott)
SEPT 11 @ Budapest Jazz Club, Budapest, Hungary ***
SEPT 12 @ Berlin Berlin-Friedrichshain, 16, Germany ***
SEPT 13 @ Jazz Dock, Prague, Czech Republic ***
SEPT 14 @ Dexter Jazz Club, Odense, Denmark ***
SEPT 16 @ Unity Jazz, Gothenburg, Sweden ***
SEPT 17 @ Unity Jazz, Gothenburg, Sweden ***
SEPT 18 @ Fasching Jazz Club, Stockholm, Sweden ***
SEPT 19 @ Concert House, Fosnavag, Norway ***
SEPT 20 @ Victoria Nasjonal, Oslo, 12, Norway ***
SEPT 21 @ Paradox Jazz, Tilburg, Netherlands ***
SEPT 22 @ Jazz in Wageningen, Wageningen, Netherlands ***
NOV 13 @ Le Petit Faucheux, Tours-sur-Marne, France ***
NOV 14 @ Tonnère de Jazz, Pau, France ***
NOV 16 @ Lugo Jazz Festival, Lugo, Spain ***
NOV 17 @ Lleido Jazz Festival, Lleida, Spain ***
NOV 19 @ Stage Club, Hamburg-Nord, Germany ***
NOV 20 @ Stage Club, Hamburg-Nord, Germany ***
NOV 21 @ Clamores Jazz Club, Madrid, Spain ***
NOV 22 @ Zaragoza Jazz Festival, Zaragoza, Spain ***
NOV 23 @ Domicil, Dortmund, Germany ***
NOV 24 @ 12on14, Warsaw, Poland ***
NOV 25 @ Stadtgarden, Cologne, Germany ***
NOV 26 @ Royal Welsch College of Music & Drama, Cardiff, UK ***
NOV 28 @ Vortex, London, UK ***