Gulo Car

Baro Drum

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A good funk band must be tightly knit, both musically and in terms of on-stage presence. So, even though the idea of a Gypsy funk band may seem a bit unusual, the strong family or clan values of the Gypsies provides the Gulo Car project with some seriously firm ground. The troupe, ten musicians plus two guests, takes its cue from mid-to-late-'70s funk, electric piano, and clavinet. The songs evoke the R&B/funk of Stevie Wonder, and the funky disco of the Casablanca label, while steering clear of the drier forms of funk that evolved from the new wave '80s. Most songs are sung in Romany (the booklet includes Czech translations, which may not be helpful to most of you -- but the album came out on a Czech label), but often include choruses and call-lines in English. "Latin Brazil" is an instrumental with an infectious Latin touch, but many other songs share that vibe, thanks to the presence of percussionist Jirí Gina. The rhythm section of Vladimír and Libor Dirda is driving, avoiding the easy thumping the genre can allow, and choosing instead a flowing, more seditious form of groove. The horn section (Jirí Majzlík on trumpet and Radim Hanousek on sax) shows some interesting creativity. The male and female lead singers (Koloman Baláz and Irena Horváthová) don't have the kind of power that brings an audience to its feet, but they do a convincing enough job. If you expect to find elements of Gypsy folk in Baro Drom, you will be disappointed -- some melodies may be derived from traditional forms, but it's all been bulldozed by the influence of American funk -- but funk-wise, Baro Drom, pushes many of the right buttons.