Asaf Sirkis Trio - The Monk
Released in 2008, The Monk is Asaf Sirkis' first album with his Asaf Sirkis Trio. Now well recognised as one of the world's premier drummers and the premier drummer of the younger generation, Sirkis is in enviably great demand all round yet still manages to run his own projects as leader with Asaf Sirkis And The Inner Noise as well as his more recently added Asaf Sirkis Trio. Never content to rest on his laurels, Sirkis constantly keeps re-inventing himself musically, and The Monk is a continuation of this ever ongoing creative process.
As one would expect from Sirkis, the Asaf Sirkis Trio's The Monk is heavily cerebral and deeply spiritual. This is music that has arisen out of the depths of a fathomless imagination and the purest inspiration, and that in turn is inspiring and sending the imagination of the listener soaring into alternative dimensions. At the same time, The Monk is also Sirkis' most lyrical and subtle work yet.
Again, this is music that just is, taking you into a realm of pure being. This is creativity at its purest: "...music begins where ideas finish," to quote Sirkis himself. Indeed. You couldn't really put it any more concise than that. Asaf Sirkis' compositions arise out of pure inspiration, pure instinct, and the results are a devastating kind of creativity, wit, and often surprising charm and delicacy.
True to form, The Monk takes the fusion 'genre' (although I would not really want to confine Sirkis to such a narrow pigeonhole, his genius doesn't really fit any) where it might have gone first time round had it dared before completely losing its way and becoming a stultified apology for itself instead. Yet, as ever, Sirkis' music remains remarkably accessible, with an endearing immediacy, vibrancy and vitality. However, this music is also quite radically different from the music of Asaf Sirkis and the Inner Noise, at least so far, in that it is much more spacious, leaning almost towards minimalism. If the Inner Noise sound thus far has been akin to say rich oils piled on with palette knives as it were, that of the Asaf Sirkis Trio on the current album would be more akin to pastels or watercolours.
Asaf Sirkis Trio's The Monk opens with two tracks that by themselves could serve as a perfect showcase for the musicians as well as for Sirkis' compositional prowess. The sometimes outgoing, sometimes reflective Stoned Bird and the introspective and haunting title track The Monk witness both Asaf Sirkis' tremendous raw power as well as his most delicate, almost watercolour-like brushwork. The palette that he can and indeed does draw upon is likely the most expansive yet heard, with his cymbal work outshining even that of Tony Williams. All this is perfectly framed by some very fine guitar from Tassos Spiliotopoulos, heavy-weight bassist Yaron Stavi's ever lyrical bass and some outstanding keyboard work from special guest Gary Husband. The Bridge is a contribution from the latter, his almost meditative piano providing both a physical and metaphysical bridge to the rest of the album, which continues in the tone set by the first two tracks. The Asaf Sirkis Trio's The Monk is, needless to add, as completely consistent an album and as utterly compelling as you'd expect from Sirkis.
Sirkis' sheer virtuosic brilliance, though often quite restrained and extremely subtle here with his usual fine sensitivity, shines as bright as ever. But his collaborators are given generous scope and room to shine, too, as is usual for Sirkis. Like any of his albums, the Asaf Sirkis Trio's The Monk is just sensational and a real experience. Even so, I must repeat myself, you absolutely must experience the phenomenon that is Asaf Sirkis live at least once in your life - one day, you'll tell your children or grandchildren about having been there!
Who though, one might ask, is the monk of the title? Well, it's not the Monk as in Thelonius. Maybe it's Sirkis himself, dedicated as he is to his spiritual musical quest...
Asaf Sirkis Trio's The Monk, like any Sirkis album, must be considered way past essential in any serious modern jazz collection, let alone any fusion collection.
© 2009 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.