Band of Gypsies

The long-awaited follow-up to Nonesuch's 1999 compilation of studio recordings by this amazing Gypsy band is a live set recorded over three evenings in Bucharest.

The long-awaited follow-up to Nonesuch's 1999 compilation of studio recordings by this amazing Gypsy band is a live set recorded over three evenings in Bucharest. Concentrating on previously unrecorded material, Taraf de Haïdouks are joined in concert by other Romany musicians from Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. The additional personnel add verve, not weight, to the proceedings; if anything, such guest acts as the Koçani Orkestar Brass Band encourage the group to exceed its usual pell-mell tempi. Even in such comparatively languid settings as the dreamy "Absinth I Drink You, Absinth I Eat You," the tension between violin and hammered cymbalom is palpable. This ragged-but-right ensemble, first heard by many in Tony Gatlif's Gypsy documentary Latcho Drom, is never less than astonishing. Taraf de Haïdouks are the musical ambassadors for a culture that has been reviled and ostracized for centuries, a fact belied by the unvarnished joy heard in every note on this disc.—RBH