Bratsch Nomads en Vol
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Nomads en Vol
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cd cover Not many bands hang around for twenty-five years, and those who do often show their ages in most unflattering ways. Not so with Bratsch. The French gypsy soul quintet has weathered the years fueled by a sense of adventure and passion that would leave younger artists short of breath. This two-disc retrospective shows a group for whom the words "compromise," "sell out," and "slow down" have no meaning. They reach deep into the soul of Roma, klezmer, gypsy jazz, Rembetiko, to name a few, to bring out the core of these styles, hard and glittering as diamonds. Using the simple tools of bouzouki, guitar, bass, accordion, and clarinet, they create a vortex of sound that the listener is happy to find him/herself caught up in. On Disc One (1988-1994), they're not afraid to segue a lovely old Neapolitan ballad ("Maruzella") into the most clichéd of tarantellas, or to sing a loopy, boozy paean to brotherhood such as "Fratelli." Disc Two, which takes us from 1995 to the present, is a little darker, but then haven't times gotten darker in the last several years? The Les Paul composition "Johnny," originally performed by Edith Piaf, has the perfect combination of brightness and pathos, with wonderfully gruff vocals. Things get down and drony on this disc, with several Rembetikos and Armenian ballads, but the occasional gypsy jazz lark gives us a ray of hope. They leave us with a rousing freilach and the anticipation of twenty-five more years of brilliant music. - Peggy Latkovich

CD available at cdRoots

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