Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Fanfare Ciocarlia: Queens and Kings [Asphalt Tango, 2007]
A Gypsy brass band created by a German record man in a Romanian village, the hectically virtuosic, unabashedly ambitious Ciocarlia have always been a little too fast and furious on record. But they're the glue of the inspired tour doc Gypsy Caravan, and this all-star CD fuses the film's ecumenicism with their lust for fame. Based on a Bucharest memorial concert for Ciocarlia's clarinetist leader, it varies their nonstop attack with singers from all over the borderless Roma community. Foremost are icons Esma Redzepova and Saban Bajramovic, whose two songs apiece could send a person surfing after Songs of a Macedonian Gypsy and A Gypsy Legend, respectively. But from godfather Dan Armeanca, whose "Kan Marau La (I Will Beat Her)" is recommended to gangsta scholars, to the climactic "Born to Be Wild," composer credit to Mars, Bonfire, this is as impressive a tour of Gypsy pop as any German record man (or woman) could hope. Special respect to guest trumpeter Pancirel Constandache, a refugee from Ciocarlia's tour grind, and either Mitsou or Florentina Sandu for the midget vocal on "Duj Duj," though the other lady is peachy too. A