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Various Artists: Sulukule, Rom Music of Istanbul

In other gypsy-related news, we have Sulukule, Rom Music of Istanbul (Traditional Crossroads 4289; 55:43), documenting the evocative music, renowned for not entirely healthy reasons as the sound of belly dance fever, from the district of Istanbul called Sulukule. Rom is a term referring to gypsy, adopted by this people to avoid the stigma attached to gypsy culture. But clearly gypsy culture is a bold inspiration on the international music scene, as heard in the heated, heartfelt playing of violinist Kemani Cemal and clarinetist Bigah Ahmet over enticing rhythmic beds. Improvisational and emotional abandon, spun off of simple themes, is the rule, wriggling bellies or no.

Originally Published