Los Niños de Sara

Gipsyole!

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Los Niños de Sara aren't so much the babies of Sara, but of the band Alabina -- three of this group's members came from there. The billing, as Gipsy Kings meet Buena Vista Social Club, is a little less than fair, although there's plenty of rhumba on this disc and the guitars strum and flourish in the best flamenco tradition (and flamenco is a gypsy tradition). But whereas the Gipsy Kings have many of the music's rough edges smoothed out for mass consumption, this band generally keeps them more or less intact, with the vivid exception of the overly syrupy "Me Encuentro et Tu Desierte," with its lush backing and synthesizers. The basic quarter of three guitars and djembe is bolstered throughout by brass, giving hefty oomph to songs like "Vagabondo" and "Cae la Nieve." But there's a real vitality to the core of the music that courses through "La Cubanita." The guitar playing, always excellent, tends more to the understated, even on the closing instrumental, "Mi...Angel." This is far more about the blend of voices, which leans toward the rough and ready while still being engaging. All in all, an album of commercial rhumba/flamenco that keeps its integrity.

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