Soul Jazz Records’ new release is the first album ever outside of Spain to focus on the history of Gipsy Rhumba – one of the most interesting musical culture clashes – that first took place in the early 1960s.
In the Catalan region of Spain, gipsies, primarily known as the creators of Flamenco, came up with a fascinating hybrid style – Gipsy Rhumba – which blended together Latin and Rhumba music of Cuba and the Caribbean together with their own flamenco, as well as the emerging rock’n’roll from America.
As well as a musical overview of this unique art form, the release comes with extensive contextual notes (in English and Spanish) and the photography of Jacques Leonard, who documented gipsy life in the 1960s, creating one of the most important records of their unique world in the 20th century.
Gipsy culture is the original rebel form, existing outside of ‘normal society’, a trans-migrant people who value highly the ideas of freedom and independence. Today gipsies are established in many European countries.
At the end of 19th century, gipsies who settled in Southern Spain take hold of flamenco, defined as the ‘Andalusian gipsy’ art. But it is out of the barrios of Barcelona in the North that a new genre appears in 1963: the Catalan Rhumba. A crossroads between flamenco, Caribbean music and rock’n’roll, Catalan gipsies develop a new way of playing flamenco guitar known as the ‘ventilador’, a technique that combines the strumming of guitar strings whilst the palms of the hand drum the rhythm on the body of the guitar. The guitar, the handclaps and certain songs originating from the Caribbean give birth to this new style.
The Catalan rhumba built its repertoire on Caribbean songs, especially from Cuba and Puerto Rico, but also from New York. However, its true value is how the essence of these songs were used to build a new style, often with just a guitar and some handclaps.
In the 1970s a new generation of gipsy rhumba emerges, as the scene is enriched with a variety of styles, and keyboards, electric guitars, funky basses and wind sections appear. The vocalists start using more flamenco cadences.
"a capsule of supercharged clapping and joyous vocals" The Guardian/Observer
"Must-have: You all know Gipsy Kings' blend of flamenco and Latin rhythms… but where did this convergence of Latin music styles occur? This compilation demonstrates how mid-1960's Barcelona hothoused gypsy musicians who employed the rumba rhythm… Gipsy Rhumba unearths a forgotten corner of Europop." The Sunday Times
**** "Musicologists aren’t the only ones who will enjoy pulling at the threads that bind this particular sound clash… Messing with the traditional form is daring at any time, but the result was something quite fantastic, potent and intriguing, full of marvellous grooves and compelling rhythms." Irish Times
"The great hidden treasure of Spanish music: pop rumba, especially ... Catalan rumba, which peaked commercially during the sixties and seventies. However, in its country of origin, rumba discographically speaking, has disappeared… Hence the relevance of Gipsy Rhumba in Spain from 1965 to 1974, an anthology released by Soul Jazz. The discerning London-based company" El Pais, Spain