Born: March 22, 1969 Primary Instrument: Drums
Born in 1969 in Petah-Tikva, Israel, Asaf later moved to the town of Rehovot, where he spent his teens and early twenties. This was an influential move for Asaf, as it was here amongst the diverse cultural influences he found in Rehovot that Asaf began to show an interest in music and rhythm. In Rehovot he lived amongst people from North Africa, east and central Europe, and the Middle East. Living in Shaarayim, the Yemenite neighbourhood in Rehovot, Asaf was particularly drawn to Yemenite culture, music, and rhythms.
At the age of 12 Asaf began drum lessons, while also having a strong interest in playing electric bass. The music that influenced Asaf at the time still influences his writing and playing till this day; The Beatles, Police, Yes, Genesis, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Allan Holdsworth, and Weather Report to name a few.
1987 to 1990 Asaf did his compulsory national service.
Out of the army in 1990, Asaf started his professional career as a musician playing with many different young Jazz-Rock, Kleizmer, world music, and Free Jazz bands. During that time he co-operated with Israel’s local Jazz/world luminaries such as Harold Rubin, Albert Beger, Yair Dlal and Eyal Sela. Many of those early projects where recorded and released by a pioneer Jazz record label in Israel called Jazzis (founded by Adam Baruch). Around those years Asaf started to write music but it wasn’t until 1995 when he formed his first trio that he found an outlet for his writing.
In 1993 moved to Tel-Aviv. While making his living playing mainly Jewish music Asaf continued to develop his own voice as a drummer and composer until, in 1995, formed his own trio (consisting of Kobi Arad on Keyboards and Gabriel Mayer on Bass) and recorded his first album ‘One Step Close’ (independent). In 1996, Inspired by French Church Organ composers such as Olivier Messiaen, Maurice Durufle’ and Cesar Frank he formed a unique new band ‘The Inner Noise’ consisting of Church Organ, Electric Guitar and Drums (with Adi Goldstein on Organ and Amir Perelman on Guitar). The Inner Noise’s first project was commissioned by the Arts department of the Tel-Aviv City Council and was performed around Israel in 1997-8.
In October 1998 Asaf left Israel for Holland and then to France, and in April 1999 he settled to London. In London, Asaf very soon become a part of the UK Jazz and world music scene. During that year he started working with Adel Salameh, a Palestinian Aud player/composer with whom he recorded the album ‘Nuzha’ which also featured, for the first time, Asaf’s Middle Eastern frame drum playing. Soon after arriving to the UK Asaf re-formed the Inner Noise band with Steve Lodder on Organ and Mike Outram on Guitar. In 2000 Asaf met Gilad Atzmon, which was to be a start of a creative musical collaboration that remains to this day. With Atzmon they formed The Orient House Ensemble. This band has now recorded 6 albums (‘Orient House’, ‘Nostalgico’, ‘Exile’, ‘Musik’, ‘Artie Fishel & the Promised Band’, and ‘Refuge’). OHE’s album 'Exile' has won the 'Best CD of the Year' category at the BBC Jazz Award 2003 and nominated in the ‘Best Band’ category in 2004. The OHE performs regularly in many high profile festival and venues in the UK and in Europe.
In 2003 Asaf recorded the Inner Noise’ first album (‘Inner Noise’, Konnex KCD 5113). ‘Inner Noise’ is widely considered a groundbreaking album and the music has been described as a new gender - ‘Gothic Jazz’. The CD was chosen as one of the best albums of 2005 at the CHUOFM89 radio jazz station in Canada.
In 2006 Asaf started a unique collaboration with Saxophonist/composer Tim Garland and has enjoyed making four album with him so far; ‘If The Sea Replied’ (The Lighthouse Trio), Due North (Northern Underground Orchestra), The Mystery (featuring Chick Corea and the Northern Simfonia Orchestra), and ‘Libra’ (The Lighthouse Trio).
With the Inner Noise band Asaf had made two more albums, ‘We Are Falling’ (Konnex 2005) and ‘The Song Within’ (SAM Productions/Egea 2007) which was selected as one of the best albums of 2007 at the ‘All About Jazz’ web-site by John Kelman. In 2007 continuing with writing music Asaf formed the Asaf Sirkis trio with Greek Guitarist Tassos Spiliotopoulos and Israeli Bassist Yaron Stavi. This trio has recorded their first album ‘The Monk’ (SAM Productions/Egea) released September 2008.
Asaf is also working regularly with the Larry Coryell’s ‘Power Trio’ (featuring Larry Coryell on Guitar and Jeff Berlin on Bass), Nicolas Meier Group, a group that combines Jazz with Middle Eastern music (albums available: ‘Ribbon In The Wind’, ‘Orient’, ‘Yuz’ and ‘Silence Talks’), and with John Law’s Art Of Sound trio as well as working with other artists such as: Mark Egan, Dave Liebman, David Binney, Gary Husband, John Taylor, Norma Winstone, Andy Sheppard, Lenny Stern, Paul Bollenback (NY), Julian Siegel, Dan Stern, Peter King, Stan Sulzman, Barbaros Erkose (Turkey), Ari Brown (Chicago), Bela Szakcsi- Lokatos (Hungary), Glauco Venier (Italy), Yuri Goloubev (Russia), Klaus Gesing (Austria), Christoph Spendel (Germany), Eyal Maoz (NY), Carlos Barretto (Portugal), Simon Fisher Turner, Phil Robson, Arnie Somogyi, Martin Speake, Mark Latimer, Reem Kelani, Christine Tobin, Nicolas Meier, Tom Arthurs, John Etherigde and more.
Awards:'The Song Within' album was selected by John Kelman in 2007 as one of the best CDs of the year at All About Jazz website. 'The Monk' album was the Jazz CD of the week at the 'Evening Standard' newspaper in the UK on 19/09/08 (selected and reviewed by Jazk Massarik)
“Sirkis is not only an inventive drummer but also a composer of rigour, wit and surprising delicacy” Chris Ingham, Mojo Magazine, October 2008
“Since arriving in London from Israel at the end of the end of the '90s, Asaf Sirkis has earned a reputation as one of the world's premier drummers” Ian Patterson, All About Jazz, September 2008
“Asaf Sirkis, the world class drum phenomenon reminiscent of Jack DeJohnette and Tony Williams at the height of their powers that's taken the British scene by storm over the last few years”... Renaissance man 2004
Occasional Clinics in the UK and Europe