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Rumba Catalan
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  • Liner Note Author: Diz Heller.
  • Translators: Diz Heller; Jeannine Blanpain.
  • Rumba Catalan is a compilation of just that: the contemporary forms of rhumba incorporated into flamenco and then moved to Barcelona for an urban sound with added influence from gypsy groups. As such, the sound is decidedly more urban than the majority of flamenco music, sounding much more Caribbean from time to time, and rarely with any of the seriousness of flamenco's song. The album opens up with a chorus sounding vaguely similar to the "We Are the World" party, followed by some energetic flamenco updated with island percussion ideas and horn sections from both Guadaljarafe and Sinay. Another chorus sings of their migration from Andalusia to Catalan (Barcelona), followed by the thoroughly Cuban sound of Vaya Cruz. Banis continues the Cuban sound, and Algarabia provides a softer, synth-driven sound with more of the traditional flamenco aesthetic embedded within. The now-retired Conchita shows off her formidably beautiful voice, and Sinay and Guadaljarafe return with more of their fused flamenco. Los Carrilanos' trio contributes some more heavily Cubanesque sounds, followed by the traditional sevillanas of la Gente de Gines. Another island sound is contributed by Siempre Asi, the offspring of the old Triana choir, and the Fantasia trio brings the album near its close with a high-paced work. The album closes on a final remix track from Sinay that finally brings in the old cante flamenco with its power, but adds in a bit of a breakbeat, arguably dirtying the purity a bit. Nonetheless, the attempt is worthwhile, with mixed results. Such is true of much of the rhumba presented here: the efforts are always high, but the music only works sometimes. The mix of old and new is one tenuous enough that it seems easy to fall flat with the proportions just off a bit in either direction. There is much hear worth hearing, but also much that might not sit as well. Listeners will have to choose their favorites only after listening to the album in full. ~ Adam Greenberg
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