The cobla is a name for the Catalan street bands of Spain, who accompany a folk dance called the sardana. The most immediate thing first-time listeners will be attracted to with the sound of the cobla bands is the timbre of the three lead instruments, two shawm or soprano saxophone-like reeds called the tible and tenora, and a kind of small recorder called the flabiol. Those expecting a loose, rowdy, and perhaps drunken Spanish street band are way off track, as these groups tend to be rehearsed until the top button is tightened, their repertoire almost completely composed. So that is the art of cobla, and this CD has a cobla ensemble based out of Amsterdam, which in its existence since the late '80s has gotten enough notoriety to attract the participation of hotshot cobla conductor Jordi Leon for this project. The Amsterdam group likes to try and extend cobla traditions by commissioning new compositions, so what you get is a mix of old and new on this fascinating CD.
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AllMusic Review by Eugene Chadbourne