Tekameli - Chants Religieux Gitans (Religious Gipsy Songs)
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Tekameli
Chants Religieux Gitans (Religious Gipsy Songs)
Long Distance (www.longdistance.fr)

cd cover The "Gitan canticle" is a comparatively recent musical genre that draws threads from many ancient traditions. The history of the Gitans in France dates from migrations from Spain in the 1400's. A century later, a large community settled in Perpignan, and has persisted to this day. Their music is an evolving tradition, with flamenco one of the most important contributions. In the 1950's, rumba and salsa influences from Spain and Cuba crept into the sound. In the 1960's, non-Gypsy pastors began teaching canticles to Gitan religious assemblies. Around 1980, the fervent religious music that became the Gitan canticle grew in the evangelical groups in the Gypsy community of Perpignan.

The musicians on this release are the Espinas brothers, Moïse, Salomon, Jérémie, and their uncle Jérôme. They are sons and grandsons of pastors, and Moïse, Salomon, and Jérémie's father Trente has composed several well-known canticles (though not the ones recorded on this release). The most obvious comparison one will draw on first listening will be to the Gypsy Kings. The driving flamenco guitar, rumba-inflected rhythms, and emotion-laden melismatic singing are the legacy of the Gitan tradition. Combine that with ecstatic religious expression and the result is both intensely personal and expansively universal. What this group lacks of the Gypsy Kings' slick sheen they make up for in sincere emotional intensity. The voices are not always clear and spot-on pitchwise, but this rough-hewn quality adds to the overall impact. The sibling harmonies, however, are pure and accurate. The propulsive guitar playing by Jérémie and Jérôme is clean and expressive. Chants Religieux Gitans is refreshing in its unabashed ardor and unapologetic sense of spiritual longing. - Peggy Latkovich

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