Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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New York Gypsy All Stars

  • Romantech [Traditional Crossroads, 2011] B+
  • Dromomania [self-released, 2015] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Romantech [Traditional Crossroads, 2011]
Released late 2011, this debut by a post-Balkan quintet built around Macedonian-born clarinet genius Ismael Lumanovski and knocked around by irrepressible Berklee-trained Turkish drummer Engin Kaan Gunaydin lags after a strong start and then races to the finish line for 25 minutes or so. Not that it's always speedy--"Outcry" adds some gravity just when it's needed. But the closing "EZ-Pass" definitely makes a beeline for the no cash lane. B+

Dromomania [self-released, 2015]
Maintaining a nice intensity for most of its first half and settling into a lyricism that flirts likably with cheese after that, this is the showcase Ismael Lumanovski deserves--or would be if it made room for one of the Eric Dolphy homages I heard him unfurl as a fledgling ten years ago. Tamar Pinarbasi has guitar moments on a cymbalon-looking zither called the qanum. Engin Kaan Gunaydin impresses more subtly because he has fewer holes to fill. "Catch" isn't the only catchy one. "Melandia" isn't either. Like most indigenous styles, Gypsy music risks identity when it aims to please. This is too self-assured for that. A-