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Asaf Sirkis: Letting Go (2010)

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Asaf Sirkis: Letting Go How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The quiet evolution of drummer Asaf Sirkis as a composer has been fascinating to behold and almost as beguiling as his playing. The confluence of influences that give shape to his rhythms—Middle Eastern, Indian and jazz—combined with a love of Sun Ra
Sun Ra
Sun Ra
1914 - 1993
keyboard
's music and an interest in astronomy, results in music which is difficult to pin down, yet which is undeniably hypnotic, in a slightly dark and brooding manner. Where Letting Go differs fromThe Monk (SAM, 2008) is in the slightly sunnier visage the music presents.

The opener, "Chennai Dream,"—with Yaron Stavi's tuneful bass at the fore—is a million light years from the dark undertones of Sirkis' Inner Noise project or The Monk. Imagine Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
b.1951
guitar
going to India and you may begin to get an idea of the lovely, country-like twang that guitarist Tassos Spiliotopoulos
Tassos Spiliotopoulos
Tassos Spiliotopoulos
b.1978
guitar
brings to this breezy tune. Indeed, there's a passing resemblance to drummer Ginger Baker
Ginger Baker
Ginger Baker
b.1939
drums
's '90s trio—which recorded two albums with Frisell and bassist Charlie Haden
Charlie Haden
Charlie Haden
1937 - 2014
bass, acoustic
. Sirkis' drumming on this track is particularly captivating, and his punchy rolls, spitting cymbals, unpredictable flourishes and subtle accents hold the ear prisoner for the forty-five thrilling seconds his solo lasts.

The title track shifts from dreamy, ECM-like reverie to an accelerated rock- inspired passage, where Spiliotopoulos takes a charging, sinewy solo over Sirkis' driving drums and pulsing bass. The Greek-born guitarist dominates this track and "Full Moon," where his solo develops gradually and potently, bookended by a delightfully simple motif based around guitar chords left hanging in the air. One of the features of Sirkis' writing is his selflessness, and bassist Stavi is also given plenty of space to let go, especially on the lyrical "Waltz for Rehovot"—a nostalgic homage to Sirkis' birthplace in Israel—where he improvises seductively around the pretty melody for nearly the composition's entire five-and-a-half minutes.

There's a ruminative, dream-like feel to the tone poems "Lady of the Lake," "Other Stars and Planets" and "IMA"—something which seems to be part of Sirkis' musical DNA. On the latter two, harmonicist Patrick Bettison injects verve and bluesy melancholy, his extended interventions bringing an added dimension to the music in much the way Gary Husband
Gary Husband
Gary Husband
b.1960
drums
's piano and Adriano Adewale
Adriano Adewale
Adriano Adewale

percussion
's percussion added significant colors to The Monk. Bettison and Sirkis are well-known to each other through their work in guitarist Nicolas Meier's group, and there's an obvious chemistry at work, also given that Sirkis' trio has been together now for four years.

Perhaps leaving Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon

saxophone
's Orient House Ensemble has had a liberating effect on the London-based Israeli drummer. Whatever the case, Sirkis continues to grow as a composer and leader, balancing subtly alluring introspection with dramatic release. This record will add to his reputation as an original and captivating voice.

Track Listing: Chennai Dream; Letting Go; Other Stars and Planets; Lady of the Lake; Full Moon; IMA; Waltz for Rehovot.

Personnel: Asaf Sirkis: drums; Yaron Stavi: electric bass; Tassos Spiliotopoulos: guitars; Patrick Bettison: harmonica (3, 6).

Record Label: Stonebird Productions

Style: Beyond Jazz


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