Slavic Soul Party: In Makedonija

In the last few years, no small amount of Slavic references have been heard inside the Knitting Factory, via loveably quirky meters and exotic modes for improv exercised by bands like Pachora, which includes Slavic Soul Party’s ace clarinetist Chris Speed. The affectionate students-including tapan (drum) player Matt Moran, trombonist Curtis Hasselbring, the Bulgaria-born cornetist Rossen Zahariev and accordionist Ted Reichman-visit the motherland on Slavic Soul Party! in Makedonija (Knitting Factory), recorded in Skopje, Macedonia. Of course, Macedonia’s most recent profile in the public eye has been as a battle-ravaged site. Yet as they’re careful to state in the liner notes, “Slavic Soul Party has no political or cultural agenda in the Balkans.” It’s a musical agenda, pure and simple. They’ve gone Balkan, but there are jazz elements woven into the fabric, including a hip Balkanized version of the Duke Ellington tune “Blue Pepper” amidst indigenous tunes and a few ambient field recordings for documentary measure-sonic snapshots of an area of obvious intrigue for all involved.