January 2, 2017
Slavic Soul Party! | Plays Duke Ellington's Far East Suite
TITLE: Plays Duke Ellington’s Far East Suite
The seventh album by this outstanding 15-year-old NYC-based band, recorded live at Barbes in 2014, has an ingenious conceit: re-imagine the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn as if performed by “an Eastern European brass band discovering an exotic American sound.” That’s more than a little facetious – the world is flatter than it was in 1963 when the Ellington Orchestra toured the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent (the suite’s inspiration); Eastern European brass stars like Ivo Papasov, Naat Veliov (Kocani Orkestar) and Boban Markovic are fluent in American jazz just as the members of SSP! who spend most of their time on jazz and other American music have made themselves expert in Balkan and Roma styles. SSP! replaces Ellington’s traditional jazz rhythm section with two stand-up percussionists, tuba and accordion; they break Duke’s Western rhythms down into Balkan fractals and provide the combustion for a series of compelling statements and solos from the five-horn (two trumpets, two trombones and sax/clarinet) front line. This radical interpretation brings jazz back to its roots as head-bobbing, toe-tapping dance music. Fabulous stuff.
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