Romica Puceanu

Sounds from a Bygone Age, Vol. 2

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Romica Puceanu was the leading Romanian Lautari, or Gypsy, vocalist of her day, shining brightest in the 1960s as she sang the music of the mahala, or ghetto. With a gorgeous sense of emotion and control to her voice, it's easy to understand how she was able to move audiences, whether on the slow, aching "Inima Suparacioasa" or the faster "Doi Tovarasi Am La Drum," where she modulates with perfection. Some called her the Eastern Billie Holiday, and it's easy to understand why. With an inflection or phrase she could turn a song and indicate sadness or joy. It helped, too, that she was backed by a very traditional Lautari band, the Gore Brothers, full of virtuosos. Listen to some of the accordion work from Victor Gore, for example (or his singing, too), or a few of the cimbalom (hammered dulcimer) runs from Marin Marangros. On some of the instrumental tracks, such as "Hora Dinspre Ziua," the addition of trumpet brings an almost New Orleans jazz feel to the music. But every element here is wonderful; this might date from the 1960s, but it's actually a timeless document, like all great music.

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