Category Archives: Press – CD & Concert Reviews/Quotes

SoSaLa CD Review By Lucid Culture (5/8/2012)

Trippy Persian and Global Grooves From SoSaLa

sosalaThe new album Nu World Trash by SoSaLa a.k.a. Iranian-American saxophonist Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi and his brilliantly assembled ensemble is so eclectic and trippy that it defies description, a woozy blend of dub, Middle Eastern music and American jazz. Producer Martin Bisi expands his own inimitable vision with dark, Lee “Scratch” Perry-inspired psychedelic sonics as the group slips and slinks through grooves with roots in Morocco, Ethiopia, Iran, Jamaica, Japan and the south side of Chicago circa 1963. That’s just for starters.

The opening track is characteristic. Titled Ja-Jou-Ka, it’s ostensibly Moroccan, but it could also be Ethiopian, right down to the biting, insistent, minor-key riff and galloping triplet rhythm that emerges from A swirling vortex of low tonalities right before the song winds out with echoey sheets of guitar noise, Ladjevardi’s elegantly nebulous tenor sax lines managing to be wary and hopeful at the same time. Ladell McLin’s guitar and Piruz Partow’s electric tar lute combine for a distant Dick Dale surf edge on Nu Persian Flamenco, a catchy, chromatically-charged surf rock vamp with echoey spoken word lyrics by Ladjevardi. Classical Persian music is inseparable from poetry, so it’s no surprise that he’d want to add his own stream-of-consciousness hip-hop style: “Work like a dog, what for? I need something to cheer me up,” this clearly being it.

With a rather cruel juxtaposition between gentle guitar/flute sonics and samples of agitated crowd noise (and a crushing assault by the gestapo a little later on), Welcome New Iran looks forward to the day when the Arab Spring comes to the Persian world (it’s only a matter of time before it comes to the U.S., too!). A traditional song, Kohrasan begins with a pensive taqsim (improvisation) on the tar and then launches into a bouncy modern gypsy-jazz vamp: it seems to be an illustration of a fable. Vatan Kojai (Where Is My Country) morphs from a swaying, soaring rai vamp into a wailing guitar dub interlude, while Happy April Fool’s Day veers from off-kilter jazz, to Ethiopiques, to biting contrasts between McLin’s abrasive noise and Sylvain Leroux’s fula flute.

The onomatopoeic (say that three times fast) NY’s Sa-Si-Su-Se-So sets Massamba Diop’s hypnotic talking drums agains swirling sax effects and wah funk guitar over a hypnotic Afrobeat groove driven by bassist Damon Banks and drummer Swiss Chris. Sad Sake makes atmospheric acid jazz out of a Japanese pop theme; the album ends with the swaying, funky Everyday Blues, a gritty workingman’s lament: the guy starts every day with a coffee and ends it with a “small bottle of beer,” and he’s had enough (although a bigger beer might help). Eclectic enough for you?

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2 SoSaLa Chicago concert reviews

SoSaLa performing at SURPLUS OF OPTIONS (Chicago), March 8, 2013 (photo by Eric Ricks)
SoSaLa performing at SURPLUS OF OPTIONS (Chicago), March 8, 2013 (photo by Eric Ricks)

#1 Middle-Eastern-Infuzed Free Jazz Delivers Amazing Experience

SoSaLa Performance Review
Date: Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Although I am a music enthusiast and have opinions about performances and content, I am willing to acknowledge when I am out of my depth. For example, because I am not very familiar with classical music and performances, I do not believe I could give a fair estimation of either. This holds true to a certain extent with Jazz, the particular subject of this article, and so I will tread lightly and offer the commendation I believe the artists deserve, although acknowledging I cannot give a perfectly-informed estimation of their artistry.

That being said, this past Friday night I had the pleasure to see SoSaLa at Surplus of Options, an independent antiques, furniture, and obscure art and objects buyer, seller and trader up on Lincoln Avenue. Initially, after reading the description of the band and considering the obscurity of the locale, I expected an amateur, indie effort—akin, perhaps, to a performance I once saw in a basement in which the “artist” periodically sipped wine from a bottle and put a microphone in his mouth to simulate a-melodic electronic crackles. Nevertheless, I went because I wanted to explore music in the city and hopefully make some contacts for my radio show. Read more here

#2 Concert review: Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi mixing Iranian influences with the passionate tone of a well seasoned club musician.

Sohrab’s achievement in the Japanese indie music scene!

In his almost 30 years of performing in Japan Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi was consistently one of the most inventive, interesting, challenging and entertaining of performer-musicians. Freely mixing jazz, fusion, world music, experimental and free sounds Sohrab always added an unexpected yet refreshing element to his shows. Over the years he performed with numerous local and touring musicians, as well as various incarnations of his own band, and pushed the Japanese scene to limits it would not otherwise have seen.

– Rob Schwartz, Tokyo Bureau Chief, Billboard magazine (October 29, 2012)