Asaf Sirkis Trio – The Monk
If there were a 21st century band that most represents the influences of the legendary fusion group Mahavishnu Orchestra – the Asaf Sirkis Trio would be it. Interestingly, you can hear all four of the very different Mahavishnu bands in the trio’s music. There are the grand off-kilter arpeggios of the original Mahavishnu. There are the long-form sensibilities of the second Mahavishnu as evidenced in the title cut. The roughness of the technologically-driven Mahavishnu quartet band that featured John McLaughlin, Narada Michael Walden, Stu Goldberg and Ralphe Armstrong can be heard in the opening cut “Stoned Bird.” Guitarist Tassos Spiliotopoulos even evokes McLaughlin’s ring-tone sound while Gary Husband captures some of the spirit of Goldberg’s synthesizer forays. The 1980’s comeback Mahavishnu band is even evoked in the playing of bassist Yaron Stavi, who sounds at times an awful lot like Mahavishnu’s Jonas Hellborg.
Music is a comparative business. So, it is always helpful to point out influences and similarities so the listener can determine if this is music that he or she wants to listen to. But it is also very important to state that the band itself sounds very different from the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Much of the music sounds nothing like them at all. For starters the band is less inclined to get involved in any riff fests. The music at times is more spatial and prone to dissonance. The trio is not afraid to slow the RPMs down from time to time and play straight-ahead. But the influences are still heard.
Drummer, composer and leader Sirkis is quite adept behind the drum kit. There is a little Tony Williams and Narada Michael Walden in his strokes. (Yes the comparisons are necessary.) Throughout the album he also is proven to be an inventive composer. Guitarist Spiliotopoulos can shred. But he also offers plenty of fantastic jazz mainstream chops. Bassist Stavi is given the opportunity to introduce several of the tunes. He develops some low-down themes that travel up from your heels to your shoulder blades. They are muscular excursions – but beautiful.
The cuts on the album are all quite satisfying. But you should pay extra attention to “Stoned Bird” and “The Dream.” Also of note is the generosity of the leader allowing for a beautiful solo piano piece from Goldberg entitled “The Bridge” which quite literally acts as a bridge between highly electric cuts.
The music on The Monk is 21st century fusion and progressive jazz presented in an absorbing and engaging way.
Asaf Sirkis Trio – The Monk (Sam Production)
1. Stoned Bird
2. The Monk
3. The Bridge
4. Without a Story