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 – 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 (featuring Kobi Arad on Keyboards and Gabriel Mayer on Bass) and recorded his first solo album ‘One Step Closer’ (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 Tel-Aviv City Council and was performed around Israel in 1997-8.
In October 1998 Asaf left Israel to Europe and eventually settled in London in April 1999. He soon become part of the UK Jazz and world music scene, and started working with Adel Salameh, a Palestinian aud player/composer with whom he recorded the album ‘Nuzha’ which featured Asaf’s Middle Eastern frame drum playing. Soon after arriving in the UK Asaf re-formed the Inner Noise band with Steve Lodder (Church Organ) and Mike Outram (Guitar).
In 2000 Asaf met Gilad Atzmon, which was the start of a major creative collaboration. With Atzmon they formed The Orient House Ensemble, and this band went on to record 7 albums (‘Orient House’, ‘Nostalgico’, ‘Exile’, ‘Musik’, ‘Artie Fishel & the Promised Band’, ‘Refuge’, and ‘In Loving Memory Of America’). OHE’s album ‘Exile’ won the ‘Best CD of the Year’ category at the BBC Jazz Award 2003 and nominated for the ‘Best Band’ category in 2004. Asaf performed with The OHE in many prestigious festivals and venues in the UK and in Europe until April 2009 when he left the band to focus on his own writing and work with his trio.
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 the highly acclaimed saxophonist/composer Tim Garland and has enjoyed making seven albums with him so far; notably ‘The Mystery’ (featuring Chick Corea and the Northern Sinfonia Orchestra), ‘Lighthouse’ (released on ACT, featuring Gwilym Simcock on piano), and ‘Songs For The north Sky’. Asaf has tours around the world with Tim’s various projects.
With the Inner Noise band Asaf 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. While developing his own compositions, Asaf formed the Asaf Sirkis Trio in 2007 which features Greek guitarist Tassos Spiliotopoulos and Israeli bassist Yaron Stavi. This trio has released three albums; ‘The Monk’ in (SAM Productions/Egea, 2008), ‘Letting Go‘ (Stonedbird Productions, 2010) and ‘Shepherds Stories‘ (2013, Stonedbird Productions) which has been selected twice as one of 2013’s best Jazz albums of the year at the All About Jazz website.
Since 2014, Asaf has been co-leading the SIrkis/Bialas IQ together with Polish composer/singer extraordinaire Sylwia Bialas (with Frank Harrison on keyboards & Kevin Glasgow on bass). Their debut album ‘Come To Me‘ has been receiving some rave reviews and been selected as one of the best of 2015 by Mark Sullivan at the All About Jazz website.
In recent years Asaf has been studying Konnakol – the south Indian vocal percussion language – with master mridangamist Paramasamy Kirupakaran and has been integrating this system in his teaching, composing and rhythmic approach. Asaf has developed an easy, step-by-step method of practicing Konnakol that can help any western instrumentalist or vocalist of any musical genre and level to increase rhythmic awareness and focus. Nowadays, Sirkis is involved in a variety of educational work, bringing Konnakol as a useful tool of understanding rhythm to western music education. Notably he has given many workshops and seminars around the world on the subject and has a YouTube channel with some basic Konnakol tutorials.
Asaf played or has been playing around the world with artists such as: Tim Garland, Celine Bonacina, Gwilym Simcock, Larry Coryell, Nicolas Meier, Jeff Berlin, John Abercrombie, Bob Sheppard, Norman Watt-Roy (off the Blockheads), Wilco Johnson, Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, Mark Egan, Mark Wingfield, Natacha Atlas, Dave Liebman, David Binney, Gary Husband, pianist John Taylor, Norma Winstone, Kenny Wheeler, Andy Sheppard, Lenny Stern, Julian Siegel, John Law, Peter King, Stan Sulzman, Barbaros Erkose (Turkey), Dwiki Dharmawan (Indonesia), Bela Szakcsi-Lokatos (Hungary), Glauco Venier (Italy), Yuri Goloubev (Russia), Klaus Gesing (Austria), Eyal Maoz (NYC), Simon Fisher Turner, Phil Robson, Mark Latimer, Natacha Atlas, Christine Tobin, John Etherigde and more…
2016 has been a very busy year so far; Recording many albums for the Moonjune record label (U.S.) with international artists artists such as Dwiki Dharmawan (Indonesia), Mark Wingfield (UK/USA), Dusan Jevtovic (Serbia/Spain), Nicolas Meier (Switzerland/UK), Gilad Atzmon (Israel/UK), Markus Reuter (Germany), and more. Asaf is featured on Tim Garland’s new album ‘ONE’ (Edition records) and looking forward to touring with that band throughout 2016. Asaf has also joined Arabic singer Natacha Atlas’ band last year and been touring with her band world-wide since January. The New Celine Bonacina Crystal Quartet Album (featuring Gwilym Simcock on piano, Celine Bonacina on reeds and Chris Jennings on bass) ‘Crystal Rain’ was released in March and features Asaf’s drums/percussion hybrid drum kit. The band has been touring France since the release of the album.