Date: Monday, December 9, 2013
Venue: Caravan (Chicago)
Concert review by August Lysy
Almost one year ago, in the crowded back room of an antique shop—amidst a mismatched assortment of chairs and odd articles—I happened upon a musical performance that for two whole hours took my breath away and held me captivated at the end of my seat. That was the night I first heard SoSaLa.
A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure to hear SoSaLa again: the same performers, but a different space. Sohrab, of course, helmed the ensemble with his shiny, silver saxophone and passionate vocals and lyrics; Steve Marquette played electric guitar—a bluesy Jazz with a Robert Fripp twist—; Lucas Gillan dominated on percussion, playing both drums and djembe; and Alex Wing played both electric bass and oud, impressively capturing the whole range of intensity, from delicate openings and interludes to slap-bass-tic jams and solos.
Objectively, since last year, the ensemble improved in their performing together. The ensemble developed a noticeably stronger rapport that was communicated in what I saw as an intenser and more unified performance. And not only did the members play better together, but each one improved in his respective instrument—most notably Steve Marquette, who tackled his solos with exceptional focus and vigor.
Having thus attested to the greater harmony of the ensemble, I must confess that dissonance marked my overall experience of the performance—and for this I hold the location responsible. Unlike last year, where attentive listeners packed the performance space and a red and green rug hanging from the ceiling enveloped us all in the warm, Jazz sounds—this year crystal chandeliers, televisions, and silver ball-bearing curtains adorned the performance space. Not unlike an Eastern Orthodox Christian attending an Evangelical Sunday service, I felt the cool, modern feel of the space stifled the passion of the emotion and thus the thrall of the experience.
But, again, I regard this as a fault of space and not any lack on the part of the musicians.
Indeed, despite the ugly LCD glow of the television screens—or perhaps in spite of them—one could still feel the soulful movements of Sohrab’s saxophone, singing its plaintive Jazz, attesting not only to his instrumental excellence but also to the depth of his feeling. One feels this Sohrab’s genuineness of emotion even through the stereo, playing his CD: it’s in his voice and words and it’s what emanates from the horn of his saxophone. This authenticity is what drew me back a year later to hear Sohrab play again, and I believe it’s what will continue to draw people toward his unique sound. Sohrab is SoSaLa.
Middle-Eastern-Infuzed Free Jazz Delivers Amazing Experience by August Lysy (TECHNEWS, March 9, 2013)