The Romany peoples (aka Gypsies) are thought to have followed one of two routes in their trek from India to Europe aeons ago: the more widely accepted path traverses Asia Minor or Russia, but the other spans the eight miles of water between Morocco and Spain--a journey that would've taken the Romany across Africa first. The Madrid-based trio Radio Tarifa, which takes its name from the southernmost Spanish cape on the Strait of Gibraltar, capitalizes on the traffic that's passed between Europe and Africa since, swirling Moroccan and other north African rhythms together with traditional Spanish sounds and other European folk elements in a trans-Mediterranean melange. Last year, World Circuit/Nonesuch licensed the group's super 1993 record, Rumba Argelina, which highlights leader Fain Due–as's impressive multi-instrumentalism; he mixes it up with Arabic darbuka and oud, Indian tabla, Iranian tar and ney, African djembe, and even Hammond organ. And "Las cuevas," from Radio Tarifa's latest effort, Temporal, effectively integrates banjo into a powerhouse flamenco number. In fact, flamenco is the new record's theme: in colorful, sometimes funky arrangements of traditional flamenco songs, singer Benjamin Escoriza and guest R. Jimenez "Falo" snake their voices around angular lines and set their uvulas ululating to rattle the rafters. The electric bass and pristine production never iron out too many wrinkles, and the group's grittiness remains a consistent pleasure. This is Radio Tarifa's first U.S. tour, and its live show is said to be quite a hoedown. Saturday, 9 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707. JOHN CORBETT
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Javier Salas.