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Gipsy Kings: Roots

[cover art]

As artists born and raised in the Mediterranean musical tradition of cante jondo, the Gipsy Kings are among the truest and best-known exponents of this centuries-old form. In the summer of 2003, the core members of the Gipsy Kings -- the singers and guitarists of the Reyes and Baliardo families -- settled into a stone villa in the small town of St-Andre-de-Bueges in the south of France, where they collaborated with producer Craig Street on Roots, the new acoustic album released by Nonesuch Records on March 16, 2004. For the first time in years, the band recorded without a drum kit, synthesizer, or electric bass, bringing the music closer to its Flamenco origins.

Roots features Nicolas, Canut, Andre, Patchai, and Paul Reyes as well as Tonino, Diego, and Paco Baliardo. Double-bassist Greg Cohen -- known for his work with Tom Waits, Marisa Monte, and Dave Douglas -- joined them. Percussionist Cyro Baptista and The Band's Garth Hudson, on accordion on the tracks "Legende" and "Petite Noya", also play on the record. The UK version of the album comes with a bonus DVD.

Fans of flamenco icons the Gipsy Kings have been waiting a long time for a record like Roots. The group spent much of the last ten years churning out a sleek and heady mix of often disposable worldbeat that, while perfectly executed, never lived up to the promise of their hugely successful 1988 American/English debut. The aptly named Roots finds the brothers Andre and Nicolas Reyes leading the veteran octet through 16 blistering tracks, bereft of the percussion and electronic trickery that has plagued so many of their previous outings. The family collective rented a farmhouse in the south of France for the recording, and the results are nothing short of a revelation. From the opening notes of "Aven, Aven" through the intimate campfire splendor of "Petite Noya," the bandmembers seem possessed by one another, trading stories through the only medium they understand, resulting in a listening experience that's almost mythological in scope. Between the infectious handclaps on "Rhythmic," the two visceral "Fandango" pieces performed by Nicolas and cousin Patchai Reyes, and the pristine (field) production -- it's like an Alan Lomax recording in 24-bit digital -- lie eight men out of time, playing for their country, their history, and most importantly, themselves. Highly recommended.
--James Christopher Monger, All-Music Guide


  1. Aven, Aven
  2. Legende
  3. Fandango (Patchai)
  4. Bolerias
  5. Rhythmic
  6. Como Siento Yo
  7. Amigo
  8. Tarantas
  9. Fandango (Nicolas)
  10. Boogie
  11. Nuages
  12. Como Ayer
  13. Soledad
  14. Tampa
  15. Hermanos
  16. Petite Noyo

Tracks, UK Bonus DVD

  1. Camarguea
  2. Amigo
  3. Mi Novia
  4. Soledad

Gipsy Kings - Roots - 2004 - Roots 79841

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