Gig Review:
Asaf Sirkis Trio Live At The Spice Of Life
(Album Launch For 'Letting Go'),
Moor Street, Soho, London W1 on Thursday 23 September, 2010

Asaf Sirkis Trio Live At

The Spice of Life
6 Moor St, Cambridge Circus, London, W1D 5NA
Thursday, 23rd September, 2010, 8pm


Asaf Sirkis - drums
Yaron Stavi - electric bass
Tassos Spiliotopoulos - guitar

Date of Review: 2010/09/27

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Asaf Sirkis Trio - Live At The Spice Of Life, London W1, Thursday 23rd September 2010

If you've never caught Asaf Sirkis live, you've been missing out on the greatest drummer of our time - it's always an unforgettable experience. But even as Sirkis' performances go, last Thursday's launch gig for the Asaf Sirkis Trio's latest album, Letting Go, turned out to be something extra special. And not only was Sirkis' performance something outstanding, but so were those of master bassist Yaron Stavi and guitar wizard Tassos Spiliotopoulos, one of the finest of the younger guitarists on the British scene.

By the time the first set got under way, the intimate Spice of Life - a cozy, superb music venue that presents anything from jazz and classical to blues, rock and folk - had filled nicely to near capacity; it doesn't always get quite this busy (sadly - it's a wonderful club that's very popular with the musicians who play there and deserves to do well), having, like all venues, been affected by the smoking ban.

The Asaf Sirkis Trio got the evening under way with Chennai Dream, the dreamy, happy, enchanting opening track from the album. Here it has to be said that some reviewers, with regard to Letting Go, still continue to refer to Sirkis' music as "dark". Nothing could be further from the truth, for this album - and tonight's performance - is sparkling with light and happy exuberance. Sirkis has come to the light side, as it were. And tonight, as on the aptly titled album, the Asaf Sirkis Trio were letting go!

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The first set continued with numbers taken entirely from the new album, as indeed one would expect. The more reflective Other Stars And Planets and the utterly enchanting Lady Of The Lake followed, to be succeeded by the vivacious and totally, joyously exuberant Letting Go. The set concluded with the gentler Waltz For Rehovot, named for Asaf Sirkis' place of birth in Israel. Throughout all the pieces, a light, happy mood prevails.

The first set was sparkling and filled with light and fireworks from all the trio members. The trio has grown extremely tight, these guys enjoy playing with each other enormously and don't need to second-guess each other. Sirkis leads from his traps like the seasoned trooper he is. A gentle-natured man, as a drummer Sirkis is mercurial, full of fire and liable to explode like a volcano when appropriate, yet also extremely sensitive, subtle and holding back when required. As ever, his cymbal work and subtle brush and soft-stick work were "way out there" - finer than anything you'll have heard before. So, of course, were his usual atomic-clock precision time-keeping and timing.

Yaron Stavi got plenty of opportunity to prove yet again why he is just about the finest and most versatile of younger bassists. He is as at home on the electric bass, as tonight - his "saucy bass" he jokes before the performance, a Mayones - as he is on his acoustic double bass, and as at home with any kind of musical style as with any other, his playing always lyrical and smooth, with his extensive classical background also often showing, particularly on acoustic bass. A true master, and of a warm, jovial nature.

Likewise, guitar wizard Tassos Spiliotopoulos' star shone brightly. As versatile as his band-mates (whom he also leads in his own name of course as the Tassos Spiliotopoulos Trio), Spiliotopoulos' style is very distinctive and individual, and as clear as a bell. This is enhanced by the chorus-like reverb he uses. Coming from a highly varied musical background, the warm and friendly Spiliotopoulos fits into this trio like hand-in-glove, and you can be sure that we'll hear a lot more of him in his own right.

After the incredible intensity of the first set - Sirkis' brand of fusion and the trio's performance really get inside your head - the break was quite welcome and perhaps even necessary indeed.

However, if you perhaps expected some sort of let-up in the second set, you would have been very much mistaken. The Asaf Sirkis Trio let go some more - a lot more, even. Consisting of a mixture of the remaining two tacks from the Letting Go album and a few tracks from the previous The Monk, as well as one adapted from Sirkis' Inner Noise trio's album We Are Falling, the second set proved even more explosive than the first.

The introspect Life Itself (from We Are Falling) opened the second half, albeit in much brighter colours than the Inner Noise version. This was followed by the remaining numbers from Letting Go, Ima and Full Moon (which by a happy coincidence, it was outside). The set concluded with two numbers from the trio's previous The Monk album, Alone and Dream, though again in brighter tones than on the album and downright climactic.

The sparks kept flying throughout this second set, with nothing less than brilliant performances all round with very fine improvs. The sheer joy and exuberance of the whole trio was totally infectious. This was jazz fusion with a difference. As ever, Sirkis takes off where fusion and especially prog-rock ended before turning into sheer tediousness if not an outright joke, and he takes it into new and uncharted territory while always remaining totally and delightfully accessible. Sirkis the composer and fusionist is as much a genius as is Sirkis the irrepressible drummer.

This performance of the Asaf Sirkis Trio left you on a high that will last for days yet.

Not least also on account of the sheer demoniac extended solo by Sirkis at the end of Dream. More than a dream, this was an incredible climactic high that practically brought the house down, with some people literally standing up with dropped jaws. Sirkis and his trio's performance was as much joy and pleasure and excitement as you could possibly find outside your bed sheets.

The Asaf Sirkis Trio have a massive gig schedule right into next year. Do yourself a massive favour and make sure you catch them live, you'd probably regret it if you missed out on this unique experience. And in the meantime, also keep yourself happy by buying the fabulous album, Letting Go.

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