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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Various Artists

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published June 23, 2008

The Rough Guide To The Music Of Hungarian Gypsies
World Music Network

Gypsy music tends to be known for its passion and flashy technique, but this compilation of Hungarian artists, while brimming with both of these qualities, also reveals the fabulous breadth of Roma musical expression. Fiery virtuosity and musical inventiveness rise to the fore here in spades, beginning with Besh O Drom, who produce a giddy concoction of sounds on saxophone, trumpet, cimbalom, and derbuka. “Hulav Tu Sej,” one of two tracks by Romano Drom (the only group that shows up twice), sounds like it could have appeared on the otherworldly 1970 debut of Bahamian folk dervish Exuma—a fitting link to the gripping melodies, unusual voices and haunting vocal effects that other groups display here. Although most of these artists are still obscure (with the exception of the more well-known Fanfare Ciocarlia and Bela Lakatos), all of them are well worth hearing, making this collection one of the best sources for exploring the scope of traditional Hungarian music.