Split Life is the debut release from 23-year old Israeli-born jazz guitarist Gilad Hekselman. Hekselman’s sound is the epitome of the word "warm", but with just enough bite to avoid it sounding overly sweet. However, as beautiful as his sound is, it wouldn’t matter much if the recording were sub-par. A paradox exists in that the best place for a musician to be heard (and have their chops put to the test) is in a live setting, and yet a live setting is the most difficult to properly record. Split Life was recorded live at Fat Cat in New York city by producer Luke Kaven and the quality is simply amazing.
Joining Hekselman on this recording is Joe Martin on bass and Ari Hoenig on drums. Jazz heavyweights in their own right (having worked with the likes of Kenny Werner, Dave Liebman, Richard Bona, Mark Turner and Jane Monheit among others), Martin and Hoenig fuse with Hekselman on every level - technically, emotionally and spiritually - to create music that is very much in the moment. Flawless as it is, their feat is that much more impressive when you add to the equation the fact that it was recorded live - where nerves can interfere and where second takes are generally frowned upon.Mixing standards such as "I Fall In Love Too Easily" and "I Should Care" with originals such as "Purim" and "The Summer Of Laughs And Tears", Hekselman & Co. show a sensitivity for the music that is always refreshing, especially from musicians with their kind of jaw-dropping chops. They never overplay - either the compositions or each other - and they display a very mature ability to incorporate space into their arrangements and solos that keeps it all sounding interesting and new throughout. It's said that with great musicians, the greatness lies not in the notes they play, but in the notes they don’t play. Split Life is a textbook testament to the truth of that statement.