Asaf Sirkis Trio

"The Monk"

(SAM Records)
The Monk

Review by Brad Walseth

Israeli-born drummer Sirkis is back with another album. In theory, another trio record, Sirkis has moved away from the use of church organ in the trio, in presenting what some have dubbed "goth jazz." This time Sirkis is backed by electric bassist Yaron Stavi and guitarist Tassos Spiliotopoulos. Keyboardist (and well-known drummer, himself) Gary Husband also is a force on the release, which continues in the direction of open composition that most calls to mind the work of the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Sirkis has own voice however, and his powerful and inventive drumming is always a treat. The music ranges from obvious jazz rock fusion ("Stoned Bird") to moody atmospheres ("The Monk") to a Satie-inspired piano interlude (“The Bridge,” written by Husband). "Without a Story" sounds like the core trio in improvisational mode, while "Alone" brings percussionist Adriano Adewale onboard on a strong composition featuring some exceptional group interplay. "End of the Circle" and "The Journey Home" mine a similar vein of trio interaction, while Husband returns on the engagingly enigmatic "Dream."

Guitarist Spiliotopolous has a Allen Holdsworth feel to his playing, but that is stating the obvious, as most modern fusion guitarists have been influenced by the pioneering Holdsworth. Husband, who is himself a Holdsworth band member (on drums!), sounds somewhat like Joe Zawinul on keyboards, but again... while bassist Stavi provides a creamy low end and is thankfully given some melodic forays that bring some calm to the shredding. Sirkis is an imaginative and highly rhythmic drummer. The songs themselves flow nicely from one to the next, but as on Sirkis' previous recording, this sameness is as much blessing as curse, and the songs could use a bit stronger sense of theme. That said, "The Monk" is still a worthy, enjoyable and interesting listen from a drummer who is pushing the boundaries of music.

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