Willie & Lobo

Gypsy Boogaloo

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The guitar and gypsy violin odd couple's debut -- which made a huge splash on both new age and world music charts -- fuses metric changes and melodic intricacies (not to mention sweetness) into an eclectic package that set world music on its ear and continued to do so years later. Willie Royal (violin) and Wolfgang Fink (acoustic guitar) are about as different an act as instrumental music offered in the '90s, with stunning flamenco styled playing (they met playing at a bar in Puerto Vallarta) and lively yet unpredictable swings. While Fink is a great acoustic player, Royal seems to redefine violin playing in a style unlike any other major artist, including Jean Luc Ponty. A gentle "Sultan's Dream" may perk up thanks to Efrain Toro's percussion and co-producer Rick Braun's trumpet, while a lilting "Dance With You" goes down like a smooth Corona. "The Lonely Camel" haunts as easily as "Allegria" and "Refrus" energize. Gypsy Boogaloo may take some getting used to, but it's one of the best exotic musical dishes of the early '90s.

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