Gilad Hekselman, along with bassist Dave Robaire and drummer Jonathan Pinson, performs tonight at Jimmy Mak's (221 NW 10th).

Gilad Hekselman breathes melody. The Israeli-born guitarist has quickly captured attention as one of the greatest young voices in modern jazz, with the support of his Hex Trio, which includes Marcus Gilmore on drums and Joe Martin on bass.

Hekselman grew up with a love of pop music and Michael Jackson, and didn't see a path toward jazz when he was first accepted to the Thelma Yellin School of the Arts near Tel Aviv. The school emphasizes musical basics such as harmony, ear training, and tradition, but community and artistic connections were also embraced, which led Hekselman to a fortuitous meeting with clarinetist Anat Cohen.

Watching Cohen and her siblings, Avishai and Yuval, play together, Hekselman says, "was one of those first moments I saw musicians that connected to one another on such a high level. It was like telepathy."

Hekselman soon moved to New York City on a cultural scholarship with the New School, and Cohen began calling him to gigs, which Hekselman looks back on with humility. He met Martin shortly after, and then Gilmore.

"The chemistry was very special from the get-go," Hekselman says of the trio. "For me there's nothing more we want from bandmates than to be free. I think they know that so they bring a lot of what they have to say to the game."