Eyal Maoz & Asaf Sirkis - Elementary Dialogues

Mark Keresman, Jazz Review

Here are two Israel-born hepcats, one currently based in the USA (E. Maoz, NYC) and the other in the UK (A. Sirkis, London) – two nations separated by a common language, two ace improvisers united by a love of jazz (among other musics) and desire to make vibrant music that doesn’t fit narrow preconceptions. Maoz’s resume includes the post-rock/jazz-damage trio Hypercolor as well as leading his own bands (one of which evokes John Scofield on hallucinogens and NYC coffee), and Sirkis has a guitar/organ/drums trio carrying on in the transitory “tradition” of the original, stunningly caustic Tony Williams Lifetime (i.e., the short-lived lineup with John McLaughlin and Larry Young).

Together, just electric guitar and drums, these gents rip it up in a most genteel fashion – whilst they can make a beautiful ruckus a la Derek Bailey & Gregg Bendian, they opt for a more listener-friendly approach. Note the hint of a Middle Eastern melody on the pensively dreamy “Duo,” likewise the razor-sharp Captain Beefheart-meets-Jim Hall-isms of “Reggae” and “Foglah.” “OK” finds Maoz managing to sublimate a good-sized chunk of West Coast Summer of Love rock (Jerry Garcia, Jefferson Airplane, etc.) in a free context. Not to underestimate Sirkis – he adroitly juggles the focused abandon of Sunny Murray and Andrew Cyrille with the speaking-in-tongues propulsion of Max Roach. While bits of it are a touch tentative (“OK”), there’s a definite sense of impetus throughout – as a whole the album never degenerates into reductive/too-quiet plunk-rattle-sputter-buzz self-indulgence. Elementary Dialogues is 11 tantalizing ebb-and-flow vignettes in which the principals are constantly and creatively engaging each other (as opposed to merely playing at the same time).

Recommended for free-ranging jazz fans as well as fans of experimental rock (i.e., David Grubbs, Sonic Youth, Dead C).