Howe Gelb & A Band of Gypsies



Let’s redefine the meaning of crossover. The album recorded by Howe Gelb and a bunch of flamenco gypsies in Cordoba (Spain) sounds like absolutely nothing else you have ever heard before, yet it maintains the familiar flavour of the Arizona desert Gelb has been shaping throughout the years, both solo and as the leader of seminal pioneers Giant Sand. It flows as naturally as if it had always been there, waiting for someone to grasp its pieces and put them together.

Back when Howe Gelb used to live in the desert he only had three tapes he could listen to in his car: Tom Waits, Miles Davis and Tomatito, the virtuoso flamenco player. Many years later, a lucky combination of hazard and destiny found him jamming in a home studio in Cordoba (the studio has now gone professional and is named Recordoba after these sessions) with some local musicians: Lin Cortés, Juan Panki and Añil, Ramos, Inma, Ángela, Rocío, Prin’ La Lá.

Córdoba, the same city mentioned by Obama in a recent speech as an example of tolerance and cross of different cultures living together: Arabs, Jews and Christians lived together in Córdoba for centuries, and the town retains a certain magic atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else. The gypsies didn’t speak English, but they could play Spanish guitar and cajon like only drunk devils can. Howe doesn’t speak Spanish, apart from a few useful words he learnt by the Mexican border, but he’s got a grainy voice that disarms any listener, and started playing piano in a way the gypsies had never seen. They all instantly fell in love with each other and played for hours without end. Words didn’t work, but glances and chords did the job. That same night, in the room downstairs from the studio, Howe wrote four new songs inspired by the intensity of the moment.