Romica Puceanu & the Gore Brothers,
Sounds from a Bygone Age, Vol. 2
(Asphalt Tango, 2006)

This Gypsy music, recorded in the 1960s, is of singer Romica Puceanu accompanied by the Gore Brothers' band, featuring Victor on accordion and Aurel on violin. Victor also takes over the vocals on two of the 13 tracks.

Gypsy music is often thought to be violin based, but the accordion is the dominant instrument in this Romanian style. There is an acoustic bass to keep a steady beat, as well as a cymbalum (a type of hammered dulcimer), a cobza (a type of lute) and a trumpet (the trumpet is on five of the tracks.).

The listener can hear influences from Turkey, Greece, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The music is hard to describe -- there is an air of mystery about it, as with the Gypsies themselves.

Puceanu stands out with her clear and powerful voice. Born in 1928, she was killed in a car accident in 1966 while returning from a wedding performance. Although few will understand her lyrics, the feelings she projects come through in these songs about everyday life.

For those who have an interest in the recent resurgence of Gypsy music, there is no better introduction than this CD, which sounds as clear as if it was recorded yesterday.

by Dave Howell
18 November 2006

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