various artists,
World of Gypsies, Vol. III
(ARC, 2003)

World of Gypsies, Vol. III is the third in a series that focuses each collection on a specific type of Gypsy music. The focus of this collection is Gypsy swing, and it demonstrates the wide range of variety that can be found within this specific niche of the music world.

While many of us relate "swing" to the big band sound steeped in jazz, this collection is more blues and folk than jazzy. It includes numbers such as "Blues for Ike" and "The Big Longing" or the Boyash folk song, "Fa nye mama O."

The groups on this CD come from diverse backgrounds and a large number of countries, including Germany, France, Russia, Spain, Bulgaria, Serbia, Morocco, Wallachia and Hungary, in addition to the expected Romania.

I have no idea what language some of these songs are. I was stumped with the very first song. However, the lack of comprehension does not affect the listener's ability to enjoy the sound. And enjoyable it is! What do you like: percussion, sax sound, brass, violin? You will find it here. Plus, there is much more.

I would wager that you cannot listen to this CD without starting to move to the beat. Hundred-mile-an-hour aircraft tape could not hold me still when I hear this collection. It will move you. Even when you think a piece is going to be slow, it will pick up a soul-stirring beat.

The layering in these songs is impressive and several will mesmerize you and force you to play the song again. There is not a bad, or even mediocre, song in the entire collection. All are exquisitely composed and performed. There is no way to select a favorite. Even though I love brass above all else, I was captivated by the violin work in the Russian number "Gypsy Soul," by Talisman. I actually found myself holding my breath at one point. The crescendos are magnificent and the ending will leave you breathless with a pounding heart. Oh, what a musical performance it is!

This is the collection for the person that wants a wide variety of Gypsy sounds from a diverse background. It is my second favorite Gypsy collection and only gets the second-rate rank because the other is Gypsy brass. This is the best sampler of such variety that I have found in the Gypsy realm. It is a purchase that you will never regret.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 9 April 2005