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Yuri Yunakov Ensemble
Roma Variations
Traditional Crossroads

cd cover The Bulgarian boxer is back, and he's bursting with fresh ideas. His brand of Roma music is a swirling mass of Eastern European sounds. His saxophone barks and bops as if he's Charlie Parker doing the hora. No, it's not klezmer, or jazz, rock or old folk tunes for that matter, but Yunakov implicitly understands how to get people up and moving.

"Ruchenitsa a la Paganini"
Not surprisingly, his sounds are often called 'wedding music' and dance you will when you listen to the opening track, "Balkanalia," or such fun tunes as "Jazz Horo," "Hot Dog," "Albanian Elegy," "Lost in Thrace," and "Kyuchek Arabesque." Yunakov and his ensemble - a four-piece outfit, not counting his son, who plays clarinet on one number - can really rock the joint.

This is very infectious stuff. The range of influences underscore both the uniqueness and the amalgamation that is Roma music. The sounds are at once distinct and very familiar. Much like some of the cutting-edge klezmer bands, Yunakov is smart enough to hark back to the earliest tunes while building on them with his own ideas, borrowing from everything from be-bop to cartoon theme songs. "Hot Dog," indeed. - Ed Silverman

Available from cdRoots

Audio: ©2001 Traditional Crossroads / (p)2001 T-Crossing
Used by express permission

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