Slavic Soul Party!

In Makedonija

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In Makedonija Review

by David R. Adler

Balkan music has quite a few devotees among the downtown set. The five members of Slavic Soul Party! are especially devoted: They went all the way to Macedonia in 2000 to tour and record, bringing this peppy CD into being. You'd think they were all born there, given the remarkable authenticity of their sound. That the Balkans are a cultural crossroads really comes through in the music, some of which sounds Indian, some Russian, some Jewish (the disc carries the logo of Knitmedia's Jewish Alternative Movement). Even Duke Ellington's "Blue Pepper," from Far East Suite, fits right in. With Chris Speed on clarinet, Ted Reichman on accordion, and Matt Moran on ethnic percussion, listeners happen to have three-fifths of John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet. Trombonist Curtis Hasselbring and cornetist Rossen Zahariev round out this nimble unit, which is equally at home with fast dance grooves, off-kilter rhythmic feels, and mournful moods. The brief, lo-fi snippets between some of the tracks lend a kind of hip-hop collage aesthetic -- a touch of New York in a Macedonian landscape.

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