Since 2001, Asefa has been honing the sound on presented on this album. North African musical traditions come together with our love of jazz and improvisation. Through original compositions and arrangements, novel orchestrations combining instruments from disparate lands, and with a heavy dose of the communal spirit needed to make our music, we present a collection of songs that comes from the heart.
Samuel Thomas -- saxophone, na'i, vocals, bendir; Elie Massias -- vocals; Yehoshua Fruchter -- guitar, oud; Noah Jarrett -- bass, guimbri; Eric Platz -- drums, darbukka; Rich Stein -- percussion; **Specials guests: Rabbi Michael Kakon -- vocals; Rachid Halihal -- violin.
Our foray into the piyyutim (poems) of the Sephardim (Iberia’s Jewish diasporic community), including Moroccan poet Rabbi David Bouzaglo and Egyptian poet Rabbi Asher Mizraḥi, is guided by a love for tradition, innovation, and reinvention. We incessantly journey through the present and its past, from mountains in the east to oceans in the west, touching down for several moments throughout this album to look around with our ears and to see what we can create.
Led by woodwind-blowing ethnomusicologist Samuel Thomas, this conservatory-trained ensemble works deeply inside and outside the North African and Sephardic musical traditions. In addition to Thomas, Asefa's lineup includes percussionist Eric Platz, bassist Noah Jarrett, acoustic and electric string player Yoshie Fruchter, and vocalist Elie Massias, who mines the mother lode of Sephardic poetry. Expect to hear music from their new album, Resonance.
-- Richard Gehr, The Village Voice, March 23, 2011.
Saxophonist Sam Thomas fronts genre-blending ensemble Asefa, mixing up North African and Jewish motifs to smoky, gorgeous effect—you'll wish you had a tiny Moroccan coffee to sip while you watch.
-- TimeOut NY, March 30, 2011
It’s a brilliant idea: take Sephardic sounds from Morocco, add some soprano sax rovings a la Coltrane, throw in bits and pieces of Israeli and Polish influences and let the cross-cultural synergy brew. This is realized in Asefa (Hebrew for “a gathering or collective”), a quintet founded in 2001 by ethnomusicologist Samuel Thomas. Using instruments such as oud, nay, guimbri and African percussion, the NYC-based group perform a repertoire spanning Sephardic poetic texts from Medieval Spain and North Africa-informed originals that are intricate yet undeniably catchy. This music has a potent beauty and soul, not to mention a great groove. Above all, Asefa’s members believe in the unifying powers of performance; you and Asefa will have an unforgettable night together.
-- Joy Hanson, BeaconPassNYC , March 31, 2011