La Route Des Gitans (The Gypsy Road)

Since the cinematic success of Latcho Drom, tracing the historic geographical routes of the Rroma (Gypsy) migration through musical illustrations seems to have become a cottage industry. For example, currently a 30-member troupe called the Gypsy Caravan is touring the U.S., featuring musicians and dancers from India, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Hungary, and Spain. This CD is a high-concept compilation along the same lines, raiding Auvidis's catalog of recordings back to 1978. Although the level of musicianship is uniformly high, with emphasis on technical virtuosity typical of Rroma music (the same cannot be said for the recording quality), as a pedagogic exercise it must be deemed a failure, with barely a paragraph of loosely allusive notes to accompany it. Here was a chance to educate listeners, both musically and culturally, about the oft-misunderstood (and maligned) Rroma, and they blew it. Too bad. - John Cho

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