Tonino Baliardo, lead guitarist of the Gipsy Kings from France, has made an attempt without the band to update the rhumba flamenca sound from the south of France on his eponymously titled second album. Hanging with a number of the Kings and the idiosyncratic postmodern production of Gerard Prevost, Baliardo's music is more firmly rooted than ever in his traditional rhythms and melodies, it's just that with the popping of Carlos Benavent's electric bass on "Gitanito" and the electronic programming on "Rumba Caliente" and "Cosso," or even the Hammond B3 by Bolsadan on "Redemption," culture shock of the new is imprinted everywhere on the recording. Yet, there is nothing revisionist about the music -- not even remotely. The new instrumentation creates different ambiences and textures, but musically the steam of the tradition percolates everywhere from this CD. Other notables are the ballads, such as "Cynthia," and the Django Reinhardt-meets-Cuban son "Recuerdo Apasionado" that closes the set. This is a fine outing; it offers a deeper, wider view of rhumba flamenca in the context of a new millennium and a new kind of traditionalism.
Tonino Baliardo Review
by Thom Jurek