All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

3

Slavic Soul Party: Live at Barbes: Slavic Soul Party Plays Duke Ellington's Far East Suite

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
In the late 1990s, visionary percussionist Matt Moran founded Slavic Soul Party, a brass band designed to stretch the boundaries between Eastern and Western European traditional music until those boundaries snap. More than two decades and twenty members later, "New York's Official #1 Brass Band for BalkanSoulGypsyFunk" fully realizes this vision by performing one of Duke Ellington's most famous Billy Strayhorn collaborations: 1963's The Far East Suite, around which Ellington organized a global tour schedule through the Middle East, South Asia, Turkey, Istanbul and the Balkans (and eventually recorded four years later for Bluebird/RCA).

Simply put, Slavic Soul Party Plays Duke Ellington's Far East Suite is amazingly played and incredibly fun. SSP breathes abundant life into each tune, pulling out threads from Ellington's original tunes and reweaving them into vibrant and colorful new cloth, with the brass and reed soloists genuinely meeting the expertise and excitement of the Duke's original instrumentalists. There's tuba instead of bass, and accordion instead of keyboards or guitars, and yet they rock.

This party starts jumping from the "Tourist Point of View." Joyous tuba thumps out the bass line, the trumpet soloist blows hot jazz, and the brass section rises and falls in soundwaves which seem like great mountains slipping past your window as your train rumbles through someplace you've never been before. Collectively, the band sounds like one big throbbing, churning rhythm machine and, from just this one song, you can't believe they can maintain their pace. And then, through raveups such as "Depk" and the cinematic and hot "Blue Pepper," which sounds like the craziest parade you ever heard marching past in double time, they do.

Many other titles align with their sound. After rustling to awaken in rattling kettle pots, the "Bluebird of Dehli" rises and falls on trumpet wings while reeds dance and flutter like butterflies nearby. Trumpet and brass rise and fall with a Hebrew or Middle Eastern sound as if climbing up and down "Mount Harissa" (which is in Lebanon). As SSP rips through their arrangements of music Ellington wrote more than fifty years ago, what might seem anachronistic sounds so vital and energetic instead.

The Ellington Orchestra's Far East Suite tour never actually made it to the Far East. The US State Department cut the tour short and the band came home from Turkey on November 22, 1963, after the assassination of US President Kennedy.

Track Listing: Tourist Point of View; Bluebird of Dehli; Isfahan; Depk; Mount Harissa; Blue Pepper; Agra; Amad; Ad Lib on Nippon.

Personnel: John Carlson: trumpet; Kenny Warren: trumpet; Peter Hess: saxophone, clarinet; Peter Stan: accordion; Matt Musselman: trombone; Tim Vaughn: trombone; Ron Caswell: tuba; Chris Stromquist: snare drum, percussion; Matt Moran: tapan, goç, bubanj.

Title: Live at Barbes: Slavic Soul Party Plays Duke Ellington's Far East Suite | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Ropeadope

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Always Forward CD/LP/Track Review
Always Forward
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 15, 2018
Read The Music of Richard Whiting CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Richard Whiting
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 15, 2018
Read Barefoot Dances and Other Visions CD/LP/Track Review
Barefoot Dances and Other Visions
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 15, 2018
Read Twinscapes Vol. 2: A Modern Approach To The Dancefloor CD/LP/Track Review
Twinscapes Vol. 2: A Modern Approach To The Dancefloor
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 15, 2018
Read Talking with Charlie - An Imaginary Talk with Charlie Parker CD/LP/Track Review
Talking with Charlie - An Imaginary Talk with Charlie Parker
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 15, 2018
Read The Gene Krupa Quartet: Live 1966! CD/LP/Track Review
The Gene Krupa Quartet: Live 1966!
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: November 15, 2018
Read "Solano Canyon" CD/LP/Track Review Solano Canyon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 23, 2018
Read "Alto Gusto" CD/LP/Track Review Alto Gusto
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "Live at Green Lady Lounge" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Green Lady Lounge
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: October 30, 2018
Read "Shamat" CD/LP/Track Review Shamat
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 16, 2017
Read "Postcard Collection" CD/LP/Track Review Postcard Collection
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 21, 2018
Read "Inminente" CD/LP/Track Review Inminente
by Matt Hooke
Published: March 26, 2018