The amusing name Slavic Soul Party! conjures up thoughts of East European musicians playing covers of James Brown, Sam & Dave, and Wilson Pickett songs -- and that isn't such an outlandish idea because classic '60s and '70s soul does, in fact, have a lot of fans in that part of the world. But Slavic Soul Party! is actually a group of New York-based jazz musicians who, in the early 2000s, put their own spin on the instrumental folk music of Macedonia and the Balkans. Although Balkan-oriented, Slavic Soul Party! is not purist and is not totally traditional in its approach. Rather, the five members of Slavic Soul Party! bring elements of jazz and funk to a Balkan foundation. Slavic Soul Party! is also willing to incorporate elements of Indian, Russian, and Jewish music at times. Although not a klezmer band, Slavic Soul Party! has been influenced by klezmer -- and in Lower Manhattan jazz circles, the quintet has fared well among fans of New York's klezmer jazz movement (which makes sense because there are parallels between klezmer and Balkan music). Clearly, the members of Slavic Soul Party! are drawn to instrumental Balkan music for the same reason they're drawn to jazz: they love to improvise. Like jazz -- or, for that matter, klezmer -- traditional Balkan music can be full of improvisation. And Slavic Soul Party! has found the parallels between Balkan music and jazz, which is why it is perfectly natural for the band to include Duke Ellington's "Blue Pepper" (from 1966's ambitious The Far East Suite) in its repertoire.