With the release of their eponymous fusion masterpiece in 1988, the Gipsy Kings' blend of the ornate styles of traditional flamenco with Western pop, Latin rhythms and anything else that caught their ear began catching the attention of listeners around the world. For two decades, the Kings' eight voices and guitars have blended with a dizzying array of musical styles, from traditional Italian ballads to Bedouin folk song to Afro-Cuban jazz and beyond, but their sound has managed to stay surprisingly cohesive. Perhaps it's the strong, slightly gritty singing of lead vocalist Nicolas Reyes, or the nimble, lyrical guitar of Tonino Baliardo that makes their music instantly recognizable, with the immediacy of Gypsy music and the infectious energy of flamenco always at its core. With 2004's Roots and again in 2007 with Pasajero, the group has brought that sound full circle, largely eschewing modern production and instrumentation in favor of the organic, improvisational majesty that occurs when friends and family unite their voices and guitars, making music the way their fathers (and their fathers' fathers) have been doing for as long as any of them can remember. After years of incorporating the world into traditional flamenco, the Gipsy Kings have now truly brought traditional flamenco to the world.
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