Though a payo or non-Gypsy, guitarist Thierry 'Titi' Robin lives the itinerant caravan life of one and plays various touring Gypsy formations he's created. His numerous recordings for Silex and Naive are among the best in this genre and Anita! is special in this special oeuvre for being recorded live. Key numbers such as "An Sumia" we know so well from Un Ciel de Cuivre [Naive &225091] now appear in the looser, more extended and improvisational form of live juergas.
Robin plays various guitars, buzuq and oud in an instantly recognizable personal style that owes much to Rumba Flamenco, Balkan Romani, Arabian maqams as well as Rajasthani influences from India, the mythical origin of the Gypsy tribe. The two masters this self-taught genius credits most with influencing his development are flamenco cantaor Camaron de la Isla and Iraqi master oudist Munir Bachir. Titi Robin has performed with Hameed Khan in lute and table outings, with Erik Marchand's Breton group, with the Gypsy Kings from Arles, with Los Rumberos Catalans, with Gypsy queen Esma Redzepova as well as has provided poetry to painter Eric Roux-Fontaine travel notebook. Titi surrounds himself with singers, dancers, rhythm guitarists, percussionists and often adds clarinet, bass and accordion.
He regularly plays in the Titi Robin Trio and Quintet, the Danyiel Waro & Titi Robin Michto Maloya road show, En Famille (with Gulabi Sapera and children) and stage formation Jivula. This year, he'll also perform with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's successor Faiz Ali Faiz from Pakistan. One of his master pieces is a solo album called Le Regard Nu, a meditative improvisation in chapters inspired by models sitting for him like they would for a painter. He also composed the sound track for Manuel Boursinhac's film The Code | La Mentale.
From Spanish and Camargue Flamenco to Rajasthani snake charming by way of the Balkans, Robin's musical language is wholly his own. It's been shaped by more than 25 years of working outside the mainstream pursuing his own muse. This fierce artistic independence permeates Anita! as well. This is beautiful, spontaneous, highly eclectic music filled with powerful emotions and an underlying sense of wildness, of a man untamed by so-called civilization. Out of the 6 albums I have by him, Anita! is my favorite - and that's like singling out one of your own children as being dearer to you than the others.
It's the energy of live music captured on location, with the palpable electricity between performers and audience bottled for our enjoyment, that makes Anita! into a trip one takes to elsewhere. It's the energy of overland buses, souks and Oriental cafes. There's a guttural and wailing bulerias. There are odd-metered limping romps, minimalist meditations between bouzuq and accordion over riffing bass and drums, a festive tanguillos, unbelievably dynamic drum interludes, dark and moody resting places, fiery finales, sad cantes to Camaron. In short, Anita! is true world music far beyond ethno commercialism - music from one world as seen through the eyes of an adventurous musical wanderer. Which, perhaps, is the best descriptions of a Gypsy though that word itself is completely alien to their Romani language. Just as Robin isn't a born gypsy, so his music goes well beyond the gitano, sinti and roma vocabulary. With Anita!, you either rediscover beloved tunes from earlier albums or meet the maestro for the first time in an excellent overview of his repertoire. Either way, magic stuff and most highly recommended!