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In Makedonija by Slavic Soul Party!

For you folks not of the Slavic persuasion, the translation of this disc's title is "In Macedonia," wholly appropriate for a disc's worth of music recorded in that Balkan nation in 2000. Lest you think this is a bunch of Slavs doing I-FEEL-GOOD classic R&B/soul w/ Southeastern Euro-accent, let me set you straight (although such a sound might be swell to hear). This NYC/Brooklyn-based outfit uses the rowdy, soulful, folk brass band music of the Balkans as the basis for its sound. Slavic Soul Party! remain true to the tradition (modal melodies rich with the breezes from Greek and Middle Eastern folk strains, delivered with powerful rhythmic OOMFP and wild polyphony), but, as they consist mostly of jazz cats, they push 'n' tweak the sounds with some randy, wack skewed/out playing. But not a lot of outside/skronk stuff, as this stuff is pretty feral and blustery in its natural state - proof that "skronk" did not wholly originate w/ Albert Ayler. (No sense putting sugar on jelly.) SSP! are Curtis Hasselbring, earthy, guttural, at times bass-like trombone; Chris Speed, wonderfully expressive, warm 'n' reedy, almost vocal clarinet; Rossen Zahariev, buzzing cornet; Ted Reichman, multihued, cushioning accordion and Matt Moran, zesty, propulsive percussion - additionally, everybody here gets to play rhythmically sometime. It's all good all 'round, but a particular high point finds SSP! tackling a swell bit of exotica from the Duke Ellington songbook, the infectious, Hollywood intrigue-laden (think Henry Mancini film music) "Blue Pepper" (which can be found on The Duke's mondo-classic RCA album Far East Suite). If you think wild music heavy on the horns began (or ended) with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, John Zorn (think his group Masada) or Ornette Coleman, dig this beguiling and celebratory slice o' timeless Balkan boogie.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Slavic Soul Party!
  • CD Title: In Makedonija
  • Genre: World Music
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Knitting Factory Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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