Taraf de Haidoucks

Friday, March 30, at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

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There's considerable interest in the music of Gypsy artists these days, but is there really such a thing as Gypsy music? Gypsies, after all, live all over Europe and don't play just one style. The horas played by Romanian Gypsies such as Taraf de Haidoucks (Band of Brigands) don't have much in common with the Gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt and the flamenco music of Spanish Gypsies. It's been claimed that Gypsies play the indigenous music of whichever area they live in, but play it more loosely, taking more liberties with it and even updating it. One of their primary concerns is to perform whatever pleases their audiences. When they started, Taraf de Haidoucks even tried to play the Lambada, just to satisfy their fans in the U.S. Eventually, producer Michel Winter advised them it wasn't such a good idea, and they reverted to their native music. The members of Taraf de Haidoucks hail from the Romanian town of Clejanu and range in age from their twenties to about 80. The younger ones supply the energy and virtuosity; the old ones have knowledge of an earlier repertoire. Almost all of the group's vocalists, in fact, are over 60, so a cross section of styles is heard. The band has cut three albums in Europe, and from them a kind of best-of CD (Taraf de Haidoucks) has been put together on Nonesuch. The music contains haunting ballads as well as lively dance tunes. It's a remarkably good band; the singing is direct and soulful, and the instrumental work uniformly impressive. Flutist Ion Falcaru really burns. As long as they stay away from the Lambada, this show should be excellent.
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