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ASAF SIRKIS

 

Appearances at SoundCellar -

The Alex Hutton Trio - 25th April 2013

The Asaf Sirkis Trio - 6th December 2012

Eyal Maoz/Asaf Sirkis Duo - 17th September 2012

The Maciek Pysz Trio - 7th June 2012

The Jon Lloyd Quintet - 26th October 2011

John Law's OPT Trio - 31st March 2011

The Jon Lloyd Quintet - 10th February 2011  

Eyal Maoz/Asaf Sirkis Duo - 13th January 2011                              

The Asaf Sirkis Trio - 21st October 2010

The Jon Lloyd Quintet - 17th June 2010

 

http://www.asafsirkis.co.uk/

 

Question 1 - What made you want to become a musician?

The freedom and urge to express. Expressing things of value, things that cannot be expressed in words.

 

Question 2 - What was your practice routine when you decided to get serious about playing jazz?

I used to practice quite a lot when I was doing my national service in Israel (between the ages of 18 to 21). I didn't have a kit most of the time so I practiced on a practice pad for hours and hours, practicing manly drum rudiments. I worked from books actually, one of the main ones I remember was George Lawrence stone's 'Accents and Rebounds'. When I'd come back home I would play with friends in our house's cellar. I got quite a lot done at that period and I still practice those rudiments and try to take it to the next level.

 

Question 3 – What advice can you give to other musicians to get the most from their practice routine?

Practice what you are inspired to practice. If the enthusiasm is there, the practice is far more productive and you'd enjoy the process which is a key to more and more progress.

There are many things you can practice, you cannot practice most of them, there's just not enough time. So better find out for yourself what excites you the most at this particular time and then dig into it!

 

Question 4 - Can you recommend some books that helped you with your studies?

Absolutely:

1. George Lawrence Stone - Accents and rebounds

2. George Laurence stone - Stick control.

I still practice these till this day and many different ways.

 

Question 5 - Which recording, either as a leader or a sideman, do you think is the best example of your playing?

1. The last album I've made with my trio - Shepherd's stories (SBPT003) would probably represent the way I play these days - quite happy about that one.

2. Phil Robson - Impish (Babel label) - this is an old one but I really like it. There was something special about that band and about the time it was recorded. It was one of my first recording I've made in the UK (around the year 2000).

3. Tassos Spiliotopoulos' - Archipelagos (F-ire) - I really love Tassos' music and find it very inspiring to play. I hope to play more of this music in the future.

4. Lighthouse Trio (ACT)- Lighthouse - great band, a privilege and an honor for me to play with such great instrumentalists and composers such as Tim Garlnd and Gwilym Simcock.

5. Asaf Sirkis and the Inner Noise - The Song Within. That album really captured the sound of that band in its maturity for me.

 

Question 6 - Do you have a standard procedure for your compositional process?

I would normally get into a 'mode' of composing,  sometimes writing one tune a day when I really get going. I wrote about 25 tunes for me new trio album, only 8 of them made it to the session.

When I write I don't worry about the quality, I just write and write till something good comes out naturally with no effort.

 

Question 7 - What qualities do you look for in your collaborators?

I love people who can play their instrument well. It gives me great satisfaction to play with people such as Tim Garland who is not only a saxophone virtuoso but also a wonderful composer. That aspect of composition-inspired playing approach is very important to me too.

I usually like to work with musicians who are interactive and responsive when playing in a band, music is all about teamwork for me.

 

Question 8 - Name some of your favorite standards and tell me why you like them.

Bemsha swing (Thelonious Monk)- I love that tune because it just really grooves.

Very early (Bill Evance) - I love the harmony, its such a thoughtful tune.

 

Question 9 – What are some of your desert island discs?

Allan Holdsworth - Attavachron

Karaikudi Mani - Sruti Laya (a great album from an Indian Mridangam master)

Tony Williams - Emergency

Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds Of Fire

Weather Report - Night passage

Yes - Close to the Edge

 

Question 10 - What music are you listening to at the moment?

Mainly south indian carnatic music. I'm studying Indian rhythm at the moment and its just fascinating to hear all these great masters of Carnatic music.

 

Question 11 - What motivates you to focus on creative music?

The search for progress, the love of playing the drums, the satisfaction when a project is finished and sounding good. The joy of the process of obtaining all the above.

 

Question 12 – Tell me about some of the most memorable gigs you’ve played?

I did a gig a few years ago in Italy with John Abercrombie, Jeff Berlin and Bob Sheppard (BESSA quartet), depping for Peter Erskine; wonderful to play with these creative inspiring musicians and an honor!

The first gig I did with Larry Coryell's trio was very special for me.  I saw Larry when I was about 15 years old in Israel playing a huge concert with Steve Swallow on bass and Bob Moses on drums. It was one a highlight for me to get the chance to play with one of my heroes and to meet him and Mark Egan who was the bass player on that tour.

 

Question 13 - Tell me about some of the most memorable gigs you’ve been to?

One of the best ones for me was Weather Report 1984 (Procession) with Omar Hakim and Victor Bailey - I'll never forget that one, the band was just kicking!

Miles Davis (Tutu)- I saw him in Israel about 1986 when he was into his funk/groove period. There was such an electric atmosphere in the room, unbelievable.

Mahavishnu Orchestra - also in Israel, 1986

Allan Holdsworth Trio  featuring Skuli Sverssion and Gary Husband 1997 - a great opportunity to see my greatest hero at the time playing with my favorite drummer ever. I had the honor to actually meet Gary and we're in touch ever since!

 

Question 14 – Tell me about your current equipment set up?

I'm going through a stage of trying different things now and even thinking about designing a new drum kit. At the moment I have a huge Timpani in my practice room as a bass drum! I still play my old Rogers kit as well as my Gretsch kit. I'm a bit more inclined to look for a smaller drum set then I used to play these days.

 

Question 15 – Tell me about some musicians you think people should check out?

Karaikudi Mani - one of south India's great percussionists ever

Govinda Harishankar - as above

Olivier Messiaen - amazing french composer

Gary Husband - my favourite drummer

Frank Harrison - great pianist and composer

Patrick Bettison - Bassist/harmonica player and composer

 

Question 16 - What's your favourite cultural pursuit other than music?

I've always been into well being, spirituality, healthy living, yoga, etc. I've always been into these things but since I'm touring quite a lot and since touring can be quite challenging at times, I try to get back into it as much as possible.

 

Question 17 - What do you think of the state of jazz in the UK?

Its a very interesting times at the moment I think. The whole setup has changed quite drastically. On the one hand, due of lack of fundings for Jazz, its harder to make a living as a musician but on the other hand, the good thing is that there are more people such as yourself who really trying to promote original new music with no added agenda to it and that's why I think that the UK at the moment is producing more and more young musicians who are interested in creating new, original music. These people who are working their butts of playing gigs for very little money will be the people that will be at the forefront of the Jazz in the UK/Europe in a 5-10 year from now.

 

Question 18 - Have you got any tips for jazz promoters?

Promote more quality original music. Make it possible for genuine musicians/composers to develop their thing. It is of great important to culture in the UK and in general.

 

Question 19 - What was the last thing you heard that got you excited?

Just been came back from Germany and saw a great band Moop Mama! Briliant groove brass band type of thing. Great to see all these great musicians doing what they do with such power, skill and enthusiasm.

 

Question 20 – Have you got anything you'd like to promote?

I'm promoting a new trio + guests album at the moment - Shepherd's Stories. The album features guitarist Tassos Spiliotopoulos, bassist Yaron Stavi, and some great guests such as vocalist Sylwia Bialas, keyboardist John Turville, and great flutist Gareth Lockrane. The album was released on my labelin July. This is our third album with this trio and I'm quite proud of it.