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Take Five With Asaf Sirkis

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Asaf Sirkis:

Born in 1969 in Petah-Tikva, Israel, Asaf later moved to the town of Rehovot, where he spent his teens and early twenties. This was an influential move for Asaf, as it was here amongst the diverse cultural influences he found in Rehovot that Asaf began to show an interest in music and rhythm. In Rehovot he lived amongst people from North Africa, east and central Europe, and the Middle East. Living in Shaarayim, the Yemenite neighbourhood in Rehovot, Asaf was particularly drawn to Yemenite culture, music, and rhythms.



At the age of 12 Asaf began drum lessons, while also having a strong interest in playing electric bass. The music that influenced Asaf at the time still influences his writing and playing till this day; The Beatles, Police, Yes, Genesis, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Allan Holdsworth, and Weather Report to name a few.



1987—1990 Asaf did his compulsory national service.



Out of the army in 1990, Asaf started his professional career as a musician playing with many different young jazz-rock, Kleizmer, world music, and free jazz bands. During that time he co-operated with Israel's local Jazz/world luminaries such as Harold Rubin, Albert Beger, Yair Dlal and Eyal Sela. Many of those early projects where recorded and released by a pioneer jazz record label in Israel called Jazzis (founded by Adam Baruch). Around those years Asaf started to write music but it wasn't until 1995 when he formed his first trio that he found an outlet for his writing.



In 1993 moved to Tel-Aviv. While making his living playing mainly Jewish music Asaf continued to develop his own voice as a drummer and composer until, in 1995, formed his own trio (consisting of Kobi Arad on keyboards and Gabriel Mayer on bass) and recorded his first album One Step Close (Independent).



In 1996, Inspired by French Church Organ composers such as Olivier Messiaen, Maurice Durufle and Cesar Frank he formed a unique new band The Inner Noise, consisting of church organ, electric guitar and drums (with Adi Goldstein on organ and Amir Perelman on guitar). The Inner Noise's first project was commissioned by the Arts department of the Tel-Aviv City Council and was performed around Israel in 1997-8.

In October 1998 Asaf left Israel for Holland and then to France, and in April 1999 he settled to London.



In London, Asaf very soon become a part of the UK Jazz and world music scene. During that year he started working with Adel Salameh, a Palestinian oud player/composer with whom he recorded the album Nuzha, which also featured, for the first time, Asaf's Middle Eastern frame drum playing.

Soon after arriving to the UK Asaf re-formed the Inner Noise band with Steve Lodder on organ and Mike Outram on guitar.

In 2000 Asaf met Gilad Atzmon, which was to be a start of a creative musical collaboration that remains to this day. With Atzmon they formed The Orient House Ensemble. This band has now recorded six albums (Orient House, Nostalgico, Exile, Musik, Artie Fishel & the Promised Band, and Refuge). OHE's album Exile has won the "Best CD of the Year" category at the BBC Jazz Award in 2003, and was nominated in the "Best Band" category in 2004. The OHE performs regularly in many high profile festival and venues in the UK and in Europe.

In 2003 Asaf recorded the Inner Noise's first album Inner Noise (Konnex). Inner Noise is widely considered a groundbreaking album and the music has been described as a new gender—"Gothic Jazz." The CD was chosen as one of the best albums of 2005 at the CHUOFM89 radio jazz station in Canada.

In 2006 Asaf started a unique collaboration with saxophonist/composer Tim Garland and has enjoyed making four album with him so far: If The Sea Replied (The Lighthouse Trio), Due North (Northern Underground Orchestra), The Mystery (featuring Chick Corea and the Northern Sinfonia Orchestra), and Libra (The Lighthouse Trio).

With the Inner Noise band Asaf had made two more albums, We Are Falling (Konnex, 2005) and The Song Within (SAM Productions/Egea, 2007), which was selected as one of the best albums of 2007 at the All About Jazz website by John Kelman.

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