The Gypsy Kings are a star group of French Flamenco and Salsa musicians who play Rumba Flamenca Pop.
- The Gypsy Kings play Rumba Flamenca Pop at the Beacon Theatre in the Upper West Side on Fri, Jun 3 at 8pm. From $80.
The Gypsy Kings
The Gypsy Kings started out in the 1970s as Los Reyes, a flamenco band of the extended Reyes family (Kings family). The families are Spaniards who moved to France to escape the horrors of the Spanish Civil War.
[NOTE: We don’t use the word “gypsy” any more because colonial English racism has corrupted the name. As best as we can tell, the Spanish word “gitano” doesn’t have the same negativity. It’s what we call ourselves. Somos gitanos. The Reyes are gitano families that call themselves gypsys. Todo bien. It’s all good.]
Los Reyes began calling itself the Gypsy Kings because they traveled a lot like the Roma people who created Flamenco in Southern Spain. The core of the group are lead singer Nicolas Reyes and lead guitarist Tonino Baliardo.
The band’s breakthrough came with their self-titled third album, “Gypsy Kings” in 1987. It produced their biggest hit “Bamboléo.” After that they became huge and collaborate with the best of the best around the world. Even if you don’t know their name, you probably know their music.
Spanish Flamenco blends many musical traditions from the road between Northern India and Southern Spain. One road went through Europe. The other went through North Africa. The Gypsy Kings have taken Flamenco all over the world by blending it with many Global Music traditions. Flamenco seems to blend with everything.
Rumba Flamenca is a style of Spanish Flamenco that made the round trip (ida y vuelta) from Spain to the Americas and back again. It incorporates Cuban rhythms and movement.
That’s not so strange when you consider that Flamenco in Spain already has Mother Africa in it. Spain and Africa are less than ten miles apart, and people migrated in both directions.
Today Flamenco has absorbed the Cajon, the shipping box used as percussion. It’s not from Spain. The Cajon is associated with Peru where Flamenco guitar legend Paco de Lucia found one, but it originated in Cuba.
Even though there are technical distinctions, Rumba Flamenca really has become core Flamenco.
Gypsy Kings Albums
The band’s first album was “Allegria” in 1982. It’s well titled because Flamenco is about turning pain into joy.
1987’s “Gipsy Kings” was the breakthrough.
1991’s “Este Mundo” earned a Grammy nomination for Best World Music Album.
1993’s “Love and Liberté” won the Latin Grammy for Best Pop Album of the Year and was nominated for the Grammy for Best World Music Album.
1996’s “Tierra Gitana” earned a Grammy nomination for Best World Music Album.
1997’s “Compas” earned a Grammy nomination for Best World Music Album.
2013’s “Savor Flamenco” won the Grammy for Best World Music Album. It also marked the start of a relationship with Michael Dorf’s Knitting Factory Records. The Knitting Factory is Brooklyn. We used to do Rock n’ Roll photography there. Dorf now runs City Winery. So the Gypsy Kings have a strong New York connection.