Various Artists
The Rough Guide To the Music of the Gypsies
World Music Network (

This collection from the British-based Rough Guide people presents contemporary Rom (Gypsy) bands from 10 nations. It includes three leading flamenco artists from Spain: Pata Negra, Tomatito and El Indio. Acquaragia Drom from Italy play an Italian version of Gypsy swing. Fanfare Ciocarlia and Taraf De Haidouks from Romania present music that sounds like a cross between Jewish klezmer and Romanian wedding music. The album also offers Eleni Vitali and Kostas Pavlidis from Greece, performing intense and passionate laments. Musafir plays the music of Rajasthan.

Kurbeti and Krusha Madhe from Albania perform wedding music, one of the few sources of employment open to the impoverished Gypsy community in this desperately poor nation. The Hungarian Gypsy Orchestra of Jozsef Lacatos and Kalman Balogh offer music as the Gypsies have done it since the 16th century. There are also cuts from Gypsy performers who sojourn in Finland, Turkey and England. The liner notes tell us that the Gypsies remain one of the least integrated people in Europe but they don't tell us what this means politically, culturally or how it has affected the Rom's links with the cultural identities of the countries where they reside.* Minor complaints aside, this album is a superb musical introduction to the music-making of the Rom people. - Aaron Howard

* You can find some of the answers at The Patrin Web Journal, a web site devoted to Rom culture and history.

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