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!
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.