Pamunt Rom Group
Ritmul Nostru
CNI (www.cnimusic.it)

The Roma, Gypsies to outsiders, include a professional nomadic musical caste that has dispersed broadly during the last half dozen centuries. Migrating out of Rajasthan in the 11th century, the Roma travelogue encompassed Persia, Armenia, Turkey, the Balkans in Eastern Europe, Spain in the west and on to the Middle East and America. Frequent releases during the last few years have examined these migrations with varying degrees of success. In any case, a "mobilized political consciousness" has resulted, both for pan-Roma historical connections and heightened awareness of their plight during the 20th century, a time when Roma/Gypsy persecution was at its most extreme.

Don't expect a history lesson on Ritmul Nostru. Unless your Italian is up to snuff, even the song titles will defy interpretation. Pamunt offers sixteen tracks of ensemble music that'll stop you in your tracks and plaster a smile on your face. Lyrics on a composition such as "Plangeti ochi si lacrimati" are edgy, a bit erratic, and perfect in emotional content as the accordion soars up and down its register. Accordion/clarinet notes cascade furiously over your ears on the traditional breakneck "Hora tiganesca," with its bass line thumping and rollicking along. Tracks like "Totul pentru muzicā" stand out for their fine trading of lead between clarinet and accordion. There are moments on Ritmul Nostru that would make a fast polka seem like a waltz and others that are slower, drawing from a less frantic place in the Roma repertoire.

There's a freshness in this outstanding release that is not aimed at English-speaking world music aficionados. The musicians' names are in the Italian-only notes, along with the instruments each plays and the song titles, no more. The Pamunt Rom Group includes Ionut Gugulan (accordion and vocals), Florin Barby (guitar and vocals) , Adrian Nan (stand-up bass), Castel Ciortan (accordion), and Laurentiy Dinca (clarinet), with Ciccio Merolla (percussion) and Riccardo Veno (soprano saxophone). Sound engineers Luciano Liguori and Enzo Gragnaniello made it all work. - Richard Dorsett

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