Personnel: Mike Outram (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Steve Lodder (organ, keyboards); Asaf Sirkis (drums).
Recording information: Eastcote Studios, London, England (11/15/2006/02/02/2007); St. Michael's Church, Highgate, London, England (11/15/2006/02/02/2007).
Photographer: Bob Meyrick.
Jazz can swing (hard bop, Dixieland, classic jazz), or it can rock (fusion). Both are valid options. And in some cases, jazz floats, which is exactly what happens on Asaf Sirkis' Song Within. This excellent fusion/post-bop disc doesn't swing like Benny Goodman's big band or rock like Scott Henderson & Tribal Tech; instead, it floats along in a contemplative, probing way, and that works pleasingly well for Israeli-born, London-based drummer Asaf Sirkis (who forms a cohesive trio with Mike Outram on electric and acoustic guitar and Steve Lodder on acoustic church organ and electric keyboards). This is not the type of jazz disc that is obsessed with technique for the sake of technique, or with how many notes can be squeezed into a solo; expression, not pyrotechnics, is the ultimate concern, and while all three of the musicians clearly have chops, none of them beat listeners over the head with them. Another thing that is obvious is the fact that this 2006/2007 recording, although jazz-oriented, is not the work of jazz snobs. Jazz is the main ingredient, but that does not prevent Sirkis and his colleagues from incorporating elements of everything from European classical to progressive rock to Middle Eastern music. One thing that is unusual about Song Within is the way Lodder uses a church organ in a fusion/post-bop setting; the use of acoustic, pre-Hammond B-3 organs is hardly unprecedented in jazz (Fats Waller pioneered the use of the pipe organ as a jazz instrument back in the '20s), but it is rare in fusion and post-bop. Song Within is a thoughtful CD that Sirkis, Lodder, and Outram can be proud of. ~ Alex Henderson
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