The first casualty is the music stand.
"Sometimes you can't avoid it," guitarist Gilad Hekselman says. "The music is new or complicated. [But] seeing music in front of me can psychologically intimidate me. When there's no music, and we're just interacting on a social level, that gives an extra element to the music that I like."
Hekselman brought his Hex Trio to WBGO to play music from his new recording, Hearts Wide Open. Joe Martin played bass. Marcus Gilmore attended to the drums. The circumstances around this event were largely unremarkable: They came, they played, they left. The music told a different story — engaging and risky, emotional and resonant, delivered with the demands of the moment. Control here, abandon there.
The Hex Trio is a working ensemble. The payoff for any kind of consistent touring schedule is a chance to refine the process: Keep what works, lose what doesn't. Eliminate the barriers between each other and the audience.
"We didn't have any music in front of us," Hekselman says. "We know the music and each other. We can just close our eyes and just make music."
The trio played three Hekselman originals: "One More Song," "The Bucket Kicker" and "Brooze," a twist on the blues form. The newest tune in the book, "A Part of the View," belongs to Israeli composer Matti Caspi.
Sometimes the best music experience happens when nobody has the mandate.
"I like listening to all kinds of music," Hekselman says. "My favorite is when there is a soloist, but everybody has a role in the band. It's great to be a soloist, but I'm all about opening my ears and trying to catch what the band is doing — not always to respond to it thematically. Even if I decide to contrast it, I want to be aware of what's happening, then decide to react to it or not."