SoSaLa’s Debut Nu World Trash Breathes Fresh Life At The NYC Crossroads of Avant-Jazz and Middle-Eastern Music
Nu World Trash is SoSaLa’s debut release, on NYC’s DooBeeDoo Records, but continues the long career of Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi – saxophonist, soundtrack composer, editor of the on-line music magazine DooBeeDooBeeDoo, music activist and martial arts master (formerly of groups The Tehran-Dakar Brothers, and SADATO). Whether blasting his horn in front of the United Nations in support of the Green Movement for Iran, gigging around town, or playing on the streets of the city, Sohrab’s presence in NYC can be felt, and through the new music on this CD the essence of those experiences are captured.
SoSaLa fuses free jazz with world music, with a particular emphasis on the Persian influences that come from Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi’s native Iran. On sax, Sohrab draws from his time playing with legends like Salif Keita and Ornette Coleman (whom he currently plays with on a regular basis in master classes), and Bachir Attar of the Master Musicians of JaJouka, as well as his time spent living in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, and now New York City. His bold original sound ranges from the soulful and melodic to the brash and contemplative, with swells of Middle-Eastern infused blowing tangled throughout.
“I came to NYC in 2008”, says Sohrab, “But I’m oriental and have lived in many different worlds. I grew up in Switzerland and Germany, but moved to Japan when I was 19. I gave up everything I had in Japan at age 55 to come here because I felt it was my last chance to do something I really believe in, through my horn. I thought maybe there would be a niche for me here, after 9/11, as a Muslim who is a good person.”
On tracks like the opener, “Ja-Jou-Ka”, Sohrab quickly establishes the soulful intensity that is a theme of the whole release, and calls out in his spoken word vocals for unity and freedom. “Alone I am nothing, but together, we are winners, we are powerful!” (From the track “Welcome New Iran”). The musical tradition between Persia and Morocco, kept alive by the Master Musicians of JaJouKa, is honored here also.
“Welcome New Iran” grew out of Sohrab’s involvement with the Green Movement for revolution and change in Iran, a movement which began in June 2009 amid protests inside Tehran against the oppression of Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah. Untold numbers of people were killed and jailed, yet unlike the Arab Spring which swept other parts of the world, the Green Movement has not been successful. It is Sohrab’s hope that revolution and change can one day find a home in the land of his forefathers. For that, this song is dedicated.
“Khorasan” is a plaintive tribute in sound to his favorite province of Iran. “Vatan Kojai?” Farsi for “Where Is My Country”, finds him questioning his identity and roots. “Happy April Fool’s Day” (he was born on April 1), shows of his playful Dadaist side. “NY’s Sa-Si-Su-Se-So” is a reworking of an older tune, about his surprise with some of his expectations of NY. “Sad Sake” is a melancholic tune inspired by a similarly-named song made famous by the Japanese Enka singer Hibari Misora. This, however, is an original song, as are all of the songs on Nu World Trash, except “Khorasan”, which is an arrangement of a traditional Iranian song. “Everyday Blues” finishes the CD, expressing the ennui of the everyday, with a sly wink, and a desire to enjoy the simple things of life, even as the droll realities get to you.
The players assembled for the recording reflect the eclectic tastes of their leader.
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, bassist/composer Damon Banks has performed with and /or recorded with some of the entertainment industry’s brightest stars, creative artists and innovative musicians. Most of these artists defy category and genre, including George Benson, Peter Gabriel, Caetano Veloso, Angelique Kidjo, Hassan Hakmoun, Chico Hamilton, Arto Lindsay, The Neville Brothers, Wadada Leo Smith, KRS-ONE, Marc Ribot, DJ. SPOOKY, and Saul Williams. Swiss Chris performed on drums, and has been heard previously with John Legend, James “Blood” Ulmer, Billy Cox, Mos Def, Dead Prez, KRS-ONE, and many others. Massamba Diop contributed on talking drum (tama) and is internationally famous for his work with Baaba Maal and his Daande Lenol Orchestra, as well as his own Senegal-America Project. Sylvain Leroux sprinkles his exquisite blowing on fula flute throughout many of the tracks, and is one of the rare outsiders who has mastered this native instrument of Guinea. Leroux is well known in the NY world music scene for helping popularize West African rhythms in NY. Ladell McLin lends his bluesy guitar playing and flash on a number of tracks like “Nu Persian Flamenco”, “Vatan Kojai?”, “Happy April Fool’s Day”, “NY’s Sa-Si-Su-Se-So”, and “Everyday Blues”; with Alejandro Castellano (guitar) contributing equally inspired sounds, textures, and phrasings on “Ja-Jou-Ka”, “Welcom New Iran”, “Khorasan”, “Sad Sake”. Other players Derek Nievergelt (bass), Piruz Partow (electric tar), Mar Gueye (sabar), Kurt Dahlke aka Pyrolator (electronics), and “Indofunk” Satish (“firebird” electronic trumpet), provided further rich backing.
Throughout the recording process at BC Studio in Brooklyn, producer Martin Bisi (famous for his work on the NYC scene since the 70’s with artists like John Zorn, Sonic Youth, Elliot Sharp, Ginger Baker, Bootsy Collins, and Jim Jarmusch, on Down By Law) oversaw all the sessions and lent his unique vision to the process.
Nu Iranian Vs. Nu Arabic Music At SoSaLa’s Nu World Trash Cd Release Party
The CD release party for Nu World Trash was March 6 at Manhattan’s Nublu (62 Ave C, between 4th and 5th Street in the Lower East Side. 9pm to 11pm – Ticket: $10), with Sohrab on sax and vocals, Damon Banks on bass, Michael Wimberly on drums and djembe, and Sinan Gundogdu on oud, with openers Al-Amar Ensemble.
The Al-Amar Ensemble was a new group to hit the NY scene, assembled by Timba Harris of Secret Chiefs 3 on the heels of his recent move at that time from Seattle, in collaboration with drummer and percussionist, April Centrone (New York Arabic Orchestra, Secret Chiefs 3), and featuring Harris’ longtime colleague / renowned composer Gyan Riley on guitar, and stunning oud player and luthier, John Vergara (NY Arabic Orchestra). The combination is a new avant-garde, marrying Arabic music and tarab with rock, soul, sensuality and intense energy.
This was the premiere performance of Al-Amar Ensemble, and SoSaLa is excited to be joined by an Arabic influenced group for a night of Nu Iranian and Nu Arabic music.
Quotes About the CD
“Sohrab’s sound on the saxophone is refreshing and unique, at once sweet and untamed. But even more impressive is the unique group sound that Sohrab has been able to create with his fellow musicians. They create a unified and complex sound together, full of counterpoint and changing textures, as opposed to keeping the spotlight only on the leader’s performance. This maturity in the music is very fitting for an album that also carries a very heartfelt social message.” (Oran Etkin, musician, Jan 28, 2012)
“SoSaLa Nu World Trash by Sohrab Saadat is a powerful album that inspires freedom. Sohrab’s innovative way to fuse Persian and Jajouka music with free jazz gives a new meaning to that category.” (Elio Villafranca, musician, Jan 4, 2012)
“SoSaLa has an expansive sound imbued with a spirit of discovery that harkens back to a time, in the 1980s, when the east village music scene was at its most creative – and combines this atmosphere with a very contemporary vibe and an awareness of the terrible political situation in Iran, which can, perhaps, only be resolved by a belief in the justice of beauty, love, and music.” (Lukas Ligeti, musician, Dec 25, 2011)
“This is a beautiful and human song, man! I like it very much. This song is a mix and fusion of Persian and JaJouka music. It describes musically very well the long historic trip Persian music and culture had to go to reach JaJouka. – When I come to NY next time let’s play Persian-JaJouka music. And please take me to Iran with you.” (The Master Musicians of JaJouka’s Bachir Attar’s quote reg. “Ja-Jou-Ka,” October 2011