‘Newsflash’: Gilad Hekselman Can Play

The Israeli-born jazz guitarist revels in spontaneity on his new release, ‘This Just In.’

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When he was a little boy growing up in Kfar Saba, Gilad Hekselman became fascinated by Michael Jackson.

“When I was 7, I was a big Michael Jackson fan and wanted to be a singer,” Hekselman, now 30, admitted in a telephone interview this week. “But I tried to play the drums and the guitar and I gave up singing.”

Israel may have lost a potential “Melekh shel Pop,” but the jazz world gained a terrific guitarist and composer, whose fourth CD, “This Just In,” is being celebrated with a gig June 11 and 12.

“I come from a music-appreciating family, but no one is a musician,” said Hekselman, who moved to New York about 10 years ago as part of a wave of Israeli jazz musicians who have made a significant mark on the city’s jazz scene.

From Michael Jackson to the N.Y. jazz scene: Gilad Hekselman.

Building A Musical Tower Of ‘BabEl’

Israeli alto saxophonist Uri Gurvich weaves ‘folkloric’ elements into his Middle Eastern-tinged jazz group.

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The sound rolls out of the saxophone, a sinuous, plangent moan that evokes rivers — the Nile,the Jordan, the Mississippi.

Uri Gurvich

Between Bima And Stage

Sharon Azrieli Perez’s big voice can bridge musical worlds.

Special To The Jewish Week

It is somehow appropriate that Sharon Azrieli Perez should be giving a Mothers’ Day concert on May 12. She is, after all, not only an opera singer, she’s also a mother of two.

“I love to sing the music that was written for cantors in the 1950s who moved easily from pulpit to stage,” says Azrieli Perez.

Giving Jewish Composers An Artistic Rebirth

Leon Botstein’s ‘Hungary Torn’ concert celebrates works of Jewish musicians whose lives were disrupted by the Nazis.

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It’s not a memorial concert.

Leon Botstein conducting the American Symphony Orchestra. Jito Lee

A Shoah Love Story Fit For The Opera

Composer Gerald Cohen stages Jack and Ina Polak’s ‘complicated’ concentration camp romance.

Special To The Jewish Week

The composer Gerald Cohen has known Jack and Ina Polak for over 25 years, first as their cantor at Shaarei Tikvah Congregation in Scarsdale and, gradually, as a friend. So when he asked the couple if he could adapt the story of their time in Bergen-Belsen as an opera, it was likely they would say yes.

Ida and Jack Polak, in their early years and today, above, are the subject of an opera, “Steal a Pencil for Me.”

Ukrainian Pianist Defies Labels

The classically trained jazz man Vadim Neselovskyi is trying to stay open to his many stylistic influences.

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Vadim Neselovskyi has one particularly vivid memory of a homecoming in his native Ukraine.

Vadim Neselovskyi: Aims for “seamless” melding of musical styles.

‘Voice For Life’

In rare N.Y. appearance, Italian singer channels songs of women imprisoned in camps and ghettos.

Special To The Jewish Week

The sound is unmistakable and unique. It is, as Charlette Shulamit Ottolenghi observes, neither Ashkenazi nor Sephardic. It is entirely its own, even if the words are millennia old.

“The fact that [these women] could compose in the camps is like a miracle to me,” says Charlette Shulamit Ottlenghi, right.

‘I Feel More Open, More Free’

Matisyahu talks about his new religious outlook, his appearance and his music.


Paris — Cigarette in one hand and cup of tea in the other, Matisyahu sat down with JTA in his closet-sized dressing room during his European tour to talk about his life, his music, how he’s raising his kids, and the recent changes in his religious outlook and physical appearance.

Matisyahu “I’m looking very much towards the Torah and Judaism as a source of inspiration.”  Larry Busacca/Getty

Songs In The Key Of Life

The lyrical pianist Fred Hersch’s jazz-theater piece ‘My Coma Dreams’ has an unlikely presenter: the narrative medicine program at Columbia.

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The world is made of stories.

Michael Winther sings the lyrics. Stephanie Berger

A Violinist Who Bridges Worlds

The classically trained Miri Ben-Ari melds jazz, R&B and hip hop. Along the way she’s become something of a cultural ambassador for Israel.

Special To The Jewish Week

Miri Ben-Ari is nothing if not enthusiastic. In conversation the word she uses most frequently is “fantastic.” It’s the word that comes up repeatedly when you ask the Grammy-winning Israeli violinist about the concert appearance she is making in New York on Feb. 20 to kick off a multi-city tour.

Miri Ben-Ari
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