ASEFA concert ensembles perform music in different setups of 3-6 musicians, emphasizing traditional and/or contemporary styles that highlight musical cultures from the Mediterranean World.
The traditional setup draws upon a pan-regional repertoire of pieces in Hebrew, Arabic, and Ladino, highlighting exchange between Muslim and Jewish cultures in Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Iraq.
The contemporary setup includes traditional and original pieces, drawing from North African, Middle Eastern, and Jazz sources. The music is a balance between respecting the authenticity of traditional styles and pushing the boundaries with modern inventiveness and innovation.
The instrumentation of ASEFA includes vocals, saxophones, oud, violin, electric and flamenco guitar, bass, guimbri, drumset, and percussion.
One might call this a musical journey, but that’s too mushy. 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.
…Great music, great players, full of energy. Guys your instruments reminds me of my mother land “Africa”. keep up the good job! You are the best because your energy with the flute/sax revibrate the strength of crew….more grease to your elbow.
I was particularly captivated by the circular lines being played by the Ud. They reminded me of what I like about other music such as acoustic country blues and Indian classical music. The music spoke to me in a heavy way.
You guys rock! I was blown away and moved by the jamming sound you create. All the percussion and the sax/oud combo was really cool. I can’t wait for the album that I just bought and I can’t wait to see you guys perform again!
Dear Sam and Orchestra,
Last night my wife and I were privileged to witness your performance. Wow! We were truly impressed with your beautiful style of music! I especially loved the way you played some of the Klezmer songs and the old Chassidic Melodies.
I’ve had the good fortune of listening to Sam Thomas and Asefa several times and their performances are entertaining, moving, and inspiring. Sam and Asefa are all accomplished musicians. Whether Sam is playing a mournful niggun on clarinet or the whole band is caught up in a frenetic Sephardic groove, the audience is always engaged.
Sam Thomas’ Asefa epitomizes the dynamism of contemporary Jewish music. While respecting tradition, Thomas has re-interpreted many melodies to make them conducive to his improvisational bent in which he has used a wide array of influences to shape new territories. His work is truly inspiring and shouldn’t be missed.
asefa is a true musical experience that leads down many dusty ancient roads and misty cobble stone alleys. the fusion of world music, new jazz and middle eastern vibes are a tasty treat to the music lover in all of us. Kudos to Sam, Shanir and the rest of the band!