The inventive French sextet Les Yeux Noirs has developed a sizable following in Europe for its conflation of Eastern European Gypsy and klezmer traditions, with a hint of French-Gypsy jazz à la

The inventive French sextet Les Yeux Noirs has developed a sizable following in Europe for its conflation of Eastern European Gypsy and klezmer traditions, with a hint of French-Gypsy jazz à la Django Reinhardt. (The band's name translates as "The Black Eyes," the name of a Russian Gypsy tune popularized in the '30s by Reinhardt.) Led by violinist brothers Erik and Olivier Slabiak, Les Yeux Noirs offers an entertaining mix of celebratory numbers and teary laments, with a crowd-pleasing emphasis on the former. Some of the highlights on the singing, dancing Balamouk (Romanian for "house of the insane") include the hypnotic, moto perpetuo title track, the cimbalom-laced "Cioara," and the ballad "Liebkeit" (Tenderness). Although "big in France" is hardly a guarantee of stateside success, Les Yeux Noirs' new release coincides with the group's coast-to-coast summer tour of the U.S. Originally issued in 2000 by EMI Music France, Balamouk is newly released in the U.S. on Harmonia Mundi's World Village imprint.—BB

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