As their name implies, Asefa “gathers” traditional melodies from throughout the Jewish musical diaspora and combines them with their own jazz influences to create a splendid mosaic. The ensemble is at its best when applying contemporary improvisational concepts and maqams (their ancient eastern equal) to compositional frameworks traditionally employed by material in the Sephardic and North African musical traditions. One can feel the very connectivity that has helped the Jewish people endure. While an emphasis is on Middle Eastern and Sephardic Jewish musical traditions, a trip into the heart of Klezmer can occur as well.
Founded in 2001 by bandleader and composer Samuel Thomas, Asefa brings together diverse musical worlds. From the Hebrew word for “collecting,” Asefa includes Thomas on soprano saxophone and percussion, Shanir Blumenkranz on oud and upright bass, and Eric Platz on drums and percussion. Traversing a wide musical landscape, Asefa travels from Morocco to Persia, Poland to America and back. Thomas’ arrangements and original compositions, imbued with contemporary concepts in improvisation and instrumentation, reflect a fresh spirit in music making.
Calling it a musical journey is too mushy and anthropological too dry. Asefa celebrates a living and indomitable music that pops up everywhere, on various continents, in rural and cosmopolitan forms. This is alt-country like you’ve never heard it. This is jazz from unexpected contexts. This is Mitteleuropean proto-blues. This is music that honors both ritual and experimentation, reminding us of the vitality and variety within the Jewish tradition – a tradition that is, given the Diaspora, everyone’s to a degree. Listen and trace your own roots, whatever they are.
In clubs and on stages worldwide, Asefa brings a unique blend of North African grooves, Sefardic sounds and jazz. Soprano sax, oud, drums, and loads of percussion rock the house and get the crowd moving everytime. Based in NYC, Asefa is a developing collective that functions around the principles of a groovin’ sound.