Picked up this wonderful recording of flamenco music from a local boot sale recently, and what a treasure it is. The album was released in the late '50s, but it was recorded at the annual Gypsy pilgrimage to Saintes Maries de la Mer way back in 1955. Some breathtaking performances on this disc and all the music is performed amidst a real carnival atmosphere. Here's what the sleeve notes have to say:
Gypsy Music recorded at the Festival of Les Stes. Maries De La Mer, 1955
These recordings of Flamenco music were made at the festival held in May each year by the Gypsies at Les Stes. Maries de la Mer in the South of France. In recording this festival, it was hoped to find some link between the Flamenco type voice-production and the songs of the wandering Bauls from Bengal, whose vocation is to never remain rooted in one place for any great length of time, but to roam throughout India singing religious, philosophical and amorous songs.
The researchers wondered how a recording machine would be taken by the Gypsies; perhaps they would resent it as an intrusion on their festivities. But from th moment of arrival at the festival they were accepted with a warm, naïve delight, mingled with childish shyness on the part of some of the women, although very few were at all reluctant to sing in front of the microphone. The music and dancing of these people is so powerful that one is hardly aware of material surroundings beyond the thick sound of many people clustered round the groups of singers and guitarists. Although the Gypsies come not only from Spain, but also from France and Italy, difference of language was no barrier to communication between them; it was very beautiful to see the way their music forms a strong link and means of expression between the different races.
The recordings were taken under rather difficult conditions. The Microphone was taken from one group to another, as they sang and danced night and day in the streets and arena, intoxicated by alcohol and the rhythmical fire of their music. Although there is a certain spirit of rivalry between the different groups of Gypsy musicians, they become as one, rushing to surround the singer, clapping hands, stamping feet, shouting encouragement, caught up in the throb of the music and the lust of the dancing. There is a brutal, savage quality in the wild strangely long drawn out cry of these songs and in the sadness of the Cante Jondo.
Artists: JUANITA PIRRIS, MARINA GARRETTA and party
(All the pieces of music on this side of the record were performed by the same group singing in front of a constantly increasing audience who helped the music to grow more and more lively, also adding the necessary atmosphere to this spontaneous ensemble. The language is Spanish.)
BULERIAS: Love song by a group of Spanish Gypsies now wandering in the South of France. The song is alternated with instrumental interludes, and while the singers, both men and women, performed, the Gypsy audience took active part in the performance by clapping the rhythm. The accompaniment is on guitar.
FANDANGO DE ELLVA
Artists: FARE MICHEL and party
Just to whet your appetite, here's a couple of great clips from Tony Gatlif's moving film about the Rom people, their journeys and their musics, Latcho Drom: