- Released: March 2, 1999
- Label: Nonesuch
CMJ - 3/29/99, p.32
"...It's hearty gypsy music, a slow burning fire fueled by minor-key accordion, passionate violins and a unique percussion instrument known as the cymbalum. When these young and old brigands unite to play music, it is often poignant and special..."
Dirty Linen - 8-9/99, p.88
"...To call them brilliant hardly seems to do them justice....this isn't restaurant romanticism, but the real deal, rawer and much shinier. Every home should have a copy of this."
- 1.Spune, Spune, Mos Batrin :: Tell Me, Tell Me, Old Man
- 3.Balada Conducatorolui :: Ballad Of The Dictator
- 4.Dragoste de la Clejani :: Love In Clejani
- 5.Briu :: The Peasant's Belt
- 6.Hora Ca la Ursari :: The Bear-Leader's Circle Dance
- 7.Hora Din Caval :: The Shepherd's Circle Dance
- 8.Dumbala Dumba
- 10.Sirba Lui Cacurica :: Cacurica's Serb Dance
- 11.Indiaca :: Indian Song
- 12.Turceasca :: Turkish Song
Personnel: Napoleon (vocals, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Vincent Kenis.
Recording information: Bazar, Brussels, Belgium (12/1990-12/1997); Electrecord Studio, Clejani, Bucharest, Romania (12/1990-12/1997); Studio CaraObes, Brussels, Belgium (12/1990-12/1997).
Photographers: Youri Lenquette; Tony Gatlif.
If this Nonesuch compilation by the 12-piece gypsy group Taraf de Haidouks is a fair representation of Romanian music, then Western listeners have been missing out on something spectacular. This is stirring, passionate folk music of almost incendiary power, steeped deeply in dance rhythms, complex, looping melodies, and the interaction of traditional gypsy instruments such as accordion, flute, violin, string bass, and cymbalum (a hammered dulcimer producing a kind of hurdy-gurdy sound).
That the ensemble spans three generations--some players are in their twenties, some in their eighties--may have something to do with the dense and varied textures of its music. There's a fierce, pell-mell recklessness that careens through these pieces, yet the instrumentalists execute their frenetic polyrhythms and slashing lead lines with the virtuosity of jazz musicians. Be forewarned: Cuts like the insanely rhythmic "Hora Ca La Ursari," an acapella circle song with only hand claps and a single drum as accompaniment, and the intense, almost cartoonish pace of "Rustem" and "Briu" may make you want to jump up, tear things apart and kiss strangers. A sure-fire purchase for anyone even remotely interested in world, folk, or ethnic dance music.