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Gilad Hekselman joins AmserJazzTime Online Jazz Fest

26 June 2020

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Over the past few weeks our Jazz students have taken part in an online composition and recording project with the College’s Hodge International Chair for Jazz, the acclaimed guitarist Gilad Hekselman.

The resulting performance will be broadcast live on Friday 26th June on the College’s Atmospheres Radio as the final AmserJazzTime of the term.

“You have been really a joy to work with. I’m happy with the result but I’m even more happy with the process. You’ve definitely proved to be a great group of musicians, it’s been great.” – Gilad Hekselman

“If you’d told me in February that we would be doing the Gilad Hekselman Residency online, and providing a whole show of new music for a new digital radio broadcast, I would never have believed it!”, said Head of Jazz Paula Gardiner.

“But here we are, a few weeks later proving that creativity can happen over the airwaves. Gilad has inspired our students to work beyond all their previous aspirations – I can’t wait for you to hear the results in AmserJazzTime.”

The aim of the project was for each student to write two new pieces of music under Gilad’s guidance.

“It’s been a fun and challenging project to be a part of and I’ve enjoyed playing on such a diverse range of original material from each member of the group,” said pianist Owain Hughes.

Saxophonist Paul Helliwell, whose piece Enough is Enough draws on current events and reflects on the conversation around race relations, comments, “Gilad has been very encouraging and informative, and I look forward to people hearing my tune, as well as thinking about the meaning behind it.”

Jazz students working with Gilad during his residency last year

Gilad encouraged the students to draw inspiration from their own musical tastes and listening experiences. An approach which bassist Clem Saynor particularly responded to: “My piece was essentially a combination of all my current listening coming into one. The idea of folk, funk, jazz and rock coming together in one track is primarily me wanting to showcase all the noises coming from three months of listening to all genres.”

Of course, the restrictions of lockdown meant that physical meetings as originally planned were impossible, so the students and Gilad threw themselves into the project online. Through frequent Zoom meetings the students were able to learn valuable compositional skills and benefit from Gilad’s professional advice.

For singer Siobhan Waters, Gilad helped her “to build up so much confidence in my voice as a songwriter and as an artist,” and guitarist Joshua Lascar reveals that they “created enough music to record for two weeks and put on a concert; it’s a great reminder that as improvisers, we are also composers!”

After weeks of hard work and dedication, the moment finally came to record as an ensemble. All parts were recorded individually, hundreds of miles apart. For saxophonist Coren Sithers, “it was great fun hearing the tune come to life as more and more parts got sent over and layered up, each with a completely unique personality.”

The tracks were then mixed and mastered by Gilad and some of the students.

The music from this project, as well as an interview with Gilad and conversations with the students, will premiere this Friday June 26 at 5:30pm on Atmospheres Radio.

What a way to end a fantastic term of great jazz in AmserJazzTime! Don’t miss it.

Find out more about our Jazz course options and check out #RWCMDJazz on Twitter and Instagram for the latest news.

Photo credit: Simon Gough

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