Gypsy Wanderlust

Migrant music for the soul

Judging by how often their early work is still, nearly two decades later, being pumped out on the PA systems of Spanish and Latin-American restaurants in this country, it's pretty plain that Americans generally regard the Gipsy Kings as some kind of gold standard for what passes for Latin music among the masses. The strange thing, of course, was that this quintessentially Spanish band was actually from France. But that's because the Gipsy Kings are the progeny of Catalonian gypsies who had migrated during the Spanish Civil War and had taken their flamenco traditions with them to their new Gaulish home. And now, the troubadours known for their Catalan-style rumba, fast-strummed flamenco guitar, and hand-clapped rhythms are making another pilgrimage. On its latest disc, Pasajero, the group pays homage to Afro-Cuban influences with a rendition of Buena Vista Social Club's popular song "Chan Chan." Though the Kings favor upbeat, pop-laced hooks over the smoldering laments of the original track, the result still feels like a rumba fit for Miami, Havana, or the world over.

The Gipsy Kings perform Friday, February 9, at 8 p.m. at Mizner Park Amphitheatre, 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Tickets cost $47 to $68.50. Call 561-750-1668.

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