GYPSY RHUMBA-THE ORIGINAL RHYTHM OF GYPSY RHUMBA IN SPAIN 1965-1974.

GYPSY RHUMBA-THE ORIGINAL RHYTHM OF GYPSY RHUMBA IN SPAIN 1965-1974.

It was in 1963 that a new musical genre was born in Barcelona, Spain. This was the Catalan Rhumba. This was a fusion of flamenco, rock ’n’ roll and Caribbean music. Catalan Rhumba had been evolving over a period of years. However, it was in 1963 when this new musical genre came to prominence. The people behind Catalan Rhumba were a group of Catalan gypsies.

These Catalan gypsies had developed a new way of playing the flamenco guitar. They called this method ventilador. Essentially, it’s a combination strumming the strings and drumming on the body of the guitar using the palms of the hands. To this, the Catalan gypsies added a myriad of handclaps. The result was a new musical genre, gypsy rhumba, which is celebrated in Soul Jazz Records’ latest compilation Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974.

Featuring twenty tracks, Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974 celebrates the golden age of gypsy rhumba. For just over a decade, gypsy rhumba provided the soundtrack to Catalan life. At weddings, christenings and festivals  gypsy rhumba provided a backdrop to the festivities. With gypsy rhumba’s popularity increasing ,this resulted in some flamenco musicians and singers crossing over, playing and singing rhumba. 

For some Catalan musicians, numberos, this made sense. Flamenco’s popularity had been usurped by the rhumba. They realised that there was a similarity between the two types of music. To them, they saw the rhumba as a simplified version of flamenco. The two genres of music stylistically were similar. Both used the same rhythmic structure and time signature. Another similarity was the use of dancers within their shows. So, for many numberos making the move from flamenco to gypsy rhumba made sense. Not everyone agreed with this.

Many numberos strongly believed that the only music they should play was flamenco. There was no way they were going to turn their back on what they perceived as “their music.” It would be almost like a betrayal of their heritage. However, for many numberos, the popularity of the gypsy rhumba saw their life transformed.

This included Pedro Cubil Calaf, who started out singing the zambra, a form of flamenco in 1947, when he was twelve. Little did anyone realise that the man who’d be crowned king of the rhumba had just made his debut. By the sixties, Peret was the undisputed king of the rhumba. Some people go as far as crediting Peret as the creator of the gypsy rhumba. He fused flamenco with the new rhythm that became known as the gypsy rhumba. So, it’s no surprise that the gypsy rhumba brought Peret fame and fortune. Fittingly, Peret features twice on on Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974. 

Apart from Peret, many other legends of gypsy rhumba feature on  Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974. This includes Antonio González, El Noi, Rabbit Rumba, Maruja Garrido, Los Gitanos Polinais and Lola Flores. They’re among the fifteen artists who contribute the twenty tracks to Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974. These tracks are taken from the golden age of gyspsy rhumba and feature some of the genres biggest names. To give you an idea of what gypsy rhumba is about, i’ll pick some of the highlights of Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974.

Rabbit Rumba’s Nester Ayer opens Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974. It featured on Rabbit Rumba’s 1972 album Primera Antologia De La Rumba. Released on the Tumbao label, quickly the track explodes into a joyous fusion of flamenco and rhumba. A myriad of handclaps, piano, percussion, acoustic guitar and bursts of Hammond organ combine. The result is music that’s uplifting and infectiously catchy.

El Noi features twice  on El Noi Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974. The first track is El Loco, which was  a single released in 1967, on the Hito label. Seven years later, El Noi released Labios Morenos as a single. Released in 1974 on Discophon, this was a track from El Noi album El+Pop De La Rumba Gitana. Choosing between the two tracks isn’t easy. Both ooze quality. However, Sí, Compay features a vocal that’s an outpouring of emotion. The arrangement unfolds at breakneck speed. It’s akin to a call to dance. Resisting this joyous music is almost impossible. All you can do is submit to its charms.

Peret’s two contributions are La Fiesta No Es Para Feos and Voy, Voy. They epitomise everything that’s good about gypsy rhumba. They’re taken from Peret, his 1967 album, released on Discophon. Both tracks feature a true innovator in his prime. Fusing flamenco and rhumba, Peret hones the gypsy rhumba sound. Peret was on his way to being crowned the King of Gypsy Rhumba.

Antonio González is another legend of gypsy rhumba. Along with Peret, his music epitomises the gypsy rhumba sound. His contributions are from 1966 and 1967. Levantate  was released in 1966, from his Extraido del E.P. Antonio’s vocal is at the heart of the track’s success. The arrangement is just guitar and handclaps. This allows Antonio’s vocal to shine as he combines power and emotion. Sarandonga is from Antonio’s1967 E.P. Antonio González. By 1967, Barcelona born Antonio González was already forty-two and well on his way to becoming one of the legends of gypsy rhumba. That’s apparent on Sarandonga, one of the real highlights of Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974.

Maruja Garrido is another artist who features twice on Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974. No wonder. Maruja Garrido is a hugely talented singer. She gives something of herself with every performance. That’s obvious on Che Camino, a track from her 1968 eponymous album. It was released on Belter. Her vocal is best described as soul baring. It’s intense and beautiful. On Amanecí En Tus Brazos, a track from Maruja’s 1968 E.P. Maruja Garrido, she delivers a captivating and impassioned vocal. Again, Maruja’s performance is flawless. These two tracks are a tantalising introduction to one of the music of Maruja Garrido.

By the time Dolores Vargas released A-Chi-Li-Pu as a single in 1969, Dolores had spent over a decade making films and music. She’d  already released several singles albums. A-Chi-Li-Pu was a track from her E.P. Dolores Vargas “La Terremoto.” It went on to become one o the biggest ever rhumba hits. This was a game-changer. Then two years later, Dolores released

Anana Hip was released as a single on Belter in 1971. Anana. Hip  featured on her 1972 album Dolores Vargas “La Terremoto.” Her vocal is a mixture of powerful, feisty and sassy and demonstrates why Dolores was nicknamed The Earthquake. As for the arrangement gypsy rhumba meets soul and funk. It marks an evolution in the gypsy rhumba sound.

Chaco’s El Pan y Los Dientes is my final choice from Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974. He’s remembered as one of gypsy rhumba’s innovators. His career began as a rhythm clapper on Peret’s early singles. However, when Peret signed to EMI, the pair parted company. By 1971, Chaco was signed to Discophon and  released El Pan y Los Dientes. This is a joyous and truly irresistible fusion of rhumba and flamenco that’s filled many a Catalan dance-floor.

Although I’ve only mentioned thirteen of the twenty tracks on  Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974 I could’ve just as easily mentioned any of the twenty tracks. No wonder. Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974 features some of the biggest names in gypsy rhumba. This includes Peret, Antonio González, Dolores Vargas, Maruja Garrido and Chaco. For a newcomer to gypsy rhumba, it’s the perfect introduction. 

Especially with the lengthy sleeve-notes and a separate book that features in the box to Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974. It charts the evolution of gypsy rhumba. By the early seventies, gypsy rhumba was changing. Many gypsy rhumba bands plugged in. They used  keyboards, electric guitars and electric basses. Even flutes found their way on to gypsy rhumba recordings. Vocalists even started to change style. Their vocals were influenced by flamenco music. Sadly, by the 1974,  gypsy rhumba was no longer as popular.

That’s why the period between 1965 and 1974 is the golden age of gypsy rhumba. Fittingly, that’s the period that Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974 covers. As compilations go, Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974 is all killer and no filler. Soul Jazz Records have gathered together some of the best examples of gypsy rhumba on Gypsy Rhumba-The Original Rhythm Of Gypsy Rhumba In Spain 1965-1974, which is the perfect introduction to Catalonia’s best kept musical secrets.

GYPSY RHUMBA-THE ORIGINAL RHYTHM OF GYPSY RHUMBA IN SPAIN 1965-1974.

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