Gilad Hekselman was born in Israel in 1983. He studied classical piano from ages six to nine, when he dropped piano and started playing guitar. From ages twelve to fourteen, Gilad was a regular performer in a band of a weekly children’s television show. At fifteen, he began studies in the Thelma Yellin School of Arts’ Jazz Department, graduating at eighteen with a special diploma in recognition of his excellence. Already in high school, Hekselman was playing with some of the best musicians in the Israeli jazz scene. He is currently receiving a scholarship from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation.
In July 2005, Gilad competed in the the Gibson–Montreux Jazz Festival Guitar Competition in Switzerland. The jury’s president was legendary guitarist Al DiMeola. Hekselman took first place, winning invitations to play concerts at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival, the 2006 IAJE conference in New York, and at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola – Jazz at Lincoln Center. He also won a Gibson Les Paul guitar.
In March 2006, Gilad recorded his debut album for Smalls Records with his trio, which features Joe Martin on bass and Ari Hoenig on drums. The record was recorded live at Fat Cat and is expected to be released Summer 2006.
These days, Gilad is living in New York City, where he attends the New School University of Jazz & Contemporary Music on a scholarship. He plays concerts with some of the best musicians in town such as Greg Hutchinson, Reuben Rogers, Ari Hoenig, Joel Frahm, Joe Martin, Jonathan Blake, Jason Linder, Avishai Cohen, Joe Cohn, Omer Avital, Mark Ferber, Kendrick Scott, Matt Brewer, Hans Glawischnig, Anat Cohen, Eric McPhearson, Marcus Strickland, Daniel Friedman, Leron Thomas, and many others. Gilad plays in clubs such as The Jazz Gallery, Fat Cat, Small’s, Dizzy’s Club, and Triad, and in restaurants such as Jules, I-Bar, Stinger, Varjak, Flea Market, Amme Russ, and others. He studied with Amos Hoffman, Peter Bernstein, Jonathan Kreisberg, Junior Mance, Joel Frahm, Ari Hoenig, and Ben Street.
“The support I’ve received from AICF helped me to concentrate more on my music, studies and career, and to worry less about the financial aspect. It’s great that in a country that is constantly under threat, there is an organization so devoted to the arts. It’s rare! From a culturally developed reality – peace will come. More power to you!”