Too often we make the mistake of comparing a new recording to a journey, but there is a clear trajectory through some great innovations in jazz – bebop and bassa nova – in this standout tour de force by Hekselman.
There is a feeling in New York, where the six string prince Hekselman moved to a dozen years ago, that sooner or later emerging jazz musicians must meet head-on the challenges of bepop – conceived aeons ago in the city – as a trial by fire.
But Hekselman’s trio – Marcus Gilmore on drums, Joe Martin on bass – (drummer Jeff Ballard guests on two tracks) on this evidence is a polished gem: Homes becomes more of a sight seeing trip than a plonking journey, and has the confident and meandering groove of a post-midnight gig in a badly lit club.
Though Homes is not one style but many, it is the quality of the musicianship on display which brings cohesion, and never more so than the revisiting of Bud Powell’s Parisian Thoroughfare. At last, here is a recording which unashamedly wears mood on its sleeve and coat tails.
Half way through Homes, while driving across miles of empty countryside and then back, Home E Minor and then Rimbaud of Rio, uncovered how Homes is the perfect match of New York muscle and European sensibility.
If more Sunday at the Village Vanguard with Bill Evans and Scott Le Faro in 1961 than the flowering of David and Coltrane years earlier, Hekselman’s theme undoubtedly is the geography of love, which explains the contemplative undercurrent.
Perhaps Evans’ Jade Visions provided the template, and the ghost too of Getz and Gilberto is looking over Hekselman’s shoulder on Samba em Preludio, but the trio cast their nets wide, and so influences are many and varied: Jimi Hendrix and Ahmad Jamal.
But this isn’t mimicry, no where close, or even derivative: Hekselman from the off wanted exhilarating music, and that he has managed to imbue these twelve tunes with finesse and a labour of joy is in itself a minor miracle. Now here’s a CD to make love to, but sober, so you can remember both and do it all again, in the morning, the afternoon, or whenever.