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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa


By Pilar Alvarez

Gipsy Kings

This surprise 1989 smash introduced the world to the Gipsy Kings' signature rumba gitana, a hybrid sound that combined guitar-driven Catalan rumba (a subspecies of flamenco) with gently percolating North African percussion and just a touch of manouche jazz from the French side of the Pyrenees. In fact, the band itself hailed from Arles, France, not Spain, as many still assume, and combined the talents of members of the Reyes and Baliardo clans, both of whom boast gitane musical pedigrees par excellence. Here you can still hear their combined genius on such classic tracks as "Bamboleo," "Bem, Bem, Maria" and "Djobi Djoba."