I continue my journey through the new releases of 2022.
The eight-song program opens with "Long Way From Home"; introduced by Hekselman whistling the melody, special guest Eric Harland jumps right in and the song takes off. The leader overdubs keys and bass but the focal point is the interaction between the guitar and drums. The drummer appears on four other tracks including the hard-edged "Magic Chord" (which you can hear below) and "Fast Moving Century", a romp that features the keyboard work of Shai Maestro as well as a fiery guitar solo from Hekselman. The title track is a sensitive ballad/ playful romp featuring the violin and viola work of Nathan Schram plus the fine rhythm section play of Oren Hardy (bass) and fellow Israeli Alon Benjamini on drums and percussion. "The Headrocker" is actually a funky ditty enlivened by a hummable (or whistle-able) melody and the bright keyboard work of Nomok and percussionist Amir Bresler (two more Israeli-born artists).
Now 10 albums as a leader into his career, Gilad Hekselman has continued to mature as a composer and musician. "Far Star" has much to offer the curious listener.
For more information, go to www.giladhekselman.com. To hear more and to buy the album, go to to https://giladhekselman.bandcamp.com/album/far-star.
Hear "Magic Chord" featuring Eric Harland:
|Photo: Lauren Desberg|
jeremysiskind.com/housewarming-project/) and they succeeded playing over 150 concerts and an on-line series of YouTube videos before the pandemic shut them down. Yet, the cessation of concerts plus a 2020 New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America gave Siskind the opportunity to create an original program for the ensemble.
"Songs of Rebirth" (Outside In Music) is credited to Mr. Siskind with Ms. Harms and Mr. Pino; not the Housewarming Project because the two-CD, 22-song program was created and recorded during the Lockdown. Separated into two thematically-linked groups of tunes, Disk 1 is subtitled "True Believers" because the majority of the 12 pieces talks about positive changes created by the forced slowdown. Disk 2, or "Cynics and Snags", is comprised of "darker" tunes. Still, Siskin "dots" the program with five takes of "Quarantine" open with the line "I break/broke quarantine for you, my dear/sweet/love"––no version is over 1:13 and each has a different arrangement. The last two have quite dark lyrics but subtle yet humorous musical backgrounds ("#3" is my favorite due to the delightful arrangement for three clarinets.
While "Normal" closes Disk One, Two closes with two splendid pieces. First is the ruminative "Forgiveness", an elegy for lost love while "Another Birthday" is a melodic rant against about getting old. Yet dig the delightful solos from piano and clarinet and the playful vocal. Over all, "Songs of Rebirth" is an impressive program not for the trio's technical prowess but for how they present each song, each one a story, each one told with wit, with emotion and intelligence. Don't shy away because there are "art songs"––embrace the musical adventure. Kudos to Jeremy Siskind, Nancy Harms, and Lucas Pino for stoking the fires of imagination!
For more information, go to https://jeremysiskind.com/. To hear more and to purchase the two-CD or digital set, go to https://outsideinmusic.bandcamp.com/album/songs-of-rebirth.
Hear "Drinking Song":