Courtesy of HIP
Tokyo comes alive to the sounds of Spain
when the Gipsy Kings bring their brand of pop-oriented flamenco to town for two nights of
engagements at the cathedral-in-glass, the Tokyo International Forum.
Formed in the southern French village of Arles near the Spanish border, the Gipsy Kings
were the creation of brothers Nicolas and Andre Reyes, sons of renowned flamenco artist
Jose Reyes, who teamed up with cousins Jacques, Maurice and Tonino Baliardo. Originally
called Los Reyes, they started out as a journeymen band playing weddings, festivals, and
in the streets.
Changing their name to Gipsy Kings to suit their itinerant lifestyle (and ethnicity - they
speak the gypsy dialect Gitane), the band didn' attract much notice until they teamed up
with visionary producer Claude Martinez. Martinez saw the potential in Nicolas Reyes'
powerful voice and Baliardo's masterful flamenco guitar, and encouraged the Kings to add
elements of rock and world music to their traditional sound.
The first results of the collaboration were the unforgettable singles "Djobi
Djoba" and "Bamboleo," which took Europe by storm in 1988 and led to the
Gipsy Kings signing with Sony. The rest, as they say, is history. The Kings went on to
conquer America and other parts of the world, topping it off with an invitation to perform
at the presidential inauguration of George Bush in 1989.
The Gipsy Kings' most recent album, the first featuring all new material since 1993, is Tierra
Gitana, released recently on Nonesuch.
Gipsy Kings play Tokyo
International Forum on May 12-13. See listings for details.