Freedom, as in civil liberties and free jazz, is the word that best captures “Nu World Trash,” the irrepressible debut by SoSaLa, the intercontinental collective led by Iranian saxophonist and activist Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi. Boasting a formidable musical résumé, Ladjevardi has worked with everyone from Malian pop star Salif Keita to Ornette Coleman and Bachir Attar of Morocco’s Master Musicians of Jajouka.
“Ja-Jou-Ka,” the album-opening plea for global unity, blends Middle Eastern tonalities, chanted vocals and bleating avant-garde saxophone reminiscent of “Dogon A.D.,” the groundbreaking 1972 album by World Saxophone Quartet founder Julius Hemphill. “Khorasan,” the only track on the record not composed by Ladjevardi, is built around the wistful interplay between the leader’s probing saxophone and the banjolike electric tar. The song pays loving tribute to Ladjevardi’s favorite province in his homeland.
Hope for a liberated Iran courses through the album’s nine hypnotic tracks, whether in the form of a psychedelic lament such as “Vatan Kojai?” (Farsi for “Where is my country?”) or in “Welcome New Iran.” The latter, a cathartic mix of musique concrete, Persian melodicism and free jazz, climaxes with Ladjevardi shouting, “Alone I am nothing, but together we are winners! Together we are powerful!”
Dadaist humor leavens several tracks, including the skronky, laughter-infected “Happy April Fool’s Day” (Ladjevardi was born April 1) and the set-closing “Everyday Blues,” with its quotidian musings, beatnik patter and squalling bursts of distorted electric guitar. The overall effect, to paraphrase novelist Charles Johnson, is less music than sound alchemized into emotion.
“Ja-Jou-Ka,” “Khorastan,” “Everyday Blues”