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Slavic Soul Party carries the evening 

To best appreciate The Hylozoists, the eight-member Toronto-based ensemble led by Halifax native Paul Aucoin, you need to see the band in a smaller, enclosed space. That way the ample sound can surround you and the rest of the audience, hitting each body with some sonic force. (Anyone who saw the band’s show with Brent Randall and His Pinecones at Stage Nine this past winter – shortly before the bar closed – will attest to that effect.)

Outdoors it just doesn’t work as well. Though tight, precise players, The Hylozoists’ music doesn’t quite have the impact it should. It roiled in the night air, like the fog that kept the crowd hunkered down. Even with two drummers (who played in lockstep with each other more than playing off one another) the overall performance didn’t quite have the reach.

Aucoin worked up a sweat – judging from the dark patch on his shirt – jumping from two sets of vibes and signaling chages to the band, but they largely stuck to the script. Improvisation either went undetected or wasn’t employed at all.

At equal strength, Slavic Soul Party benefited from presenting largely unfamiliar music to the crowd. Though one group of about four or five spectators, including a guy wearing a t-shirt saying, I think Sarajevo Jazz Festival, recognized the traditional tunes.

Brooklyn-based Slavic Soul Party mixes traditional arrangements with their own contemporary compositions (courtesy of band leader and bubanje player Matt Moran). Bulgarian, Serbian and Latin rhythms came together seamlessly and beautifully.

Besides watching tuba player bounce the massive brass instrument while providing the low end, the soloists, especially saxophonist Oscar Noriega and accordionist Peter Stan (he did this big, moaning, descending note at one point that would make any rock guitarist sit up and take notice).

The brass had the reach tonight. The blasts cut through the fog and carried the evening.

Sean Flinn

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