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Rupa and the April Fishes 

eXtraOrdinary rendition (Cumbancha)

Wednesday, Apr 2 2008

Gypsy music has become all the rage of late, what with Beirut, Gogol Bordello, and DeVotchKa bringing their Roma-inspired sounds to the masses. Locally, the closest thing we have to Gypsy tunage is Rupa and the April Fishes, a large ensemble named after the French phrase for April fools. On the outfit's debut, eXtraOrdinary rendition, there are plenty of beery, minstrelesque sing-alongs, including "Une Américaine à Paris," a strutting, horn-accented hoot with a message about sneaky racism, and "Plus Que Moi," a saucy, circusy jaunt about putting an end to self-deception. But the group — which was formed by UCSF physician Rupa Marya, and features members of such accomplished acts as Tango No. 9, the Drift, and Charming Hostess — is far more than just a one-note band. Between Marya's quadrilingual abilities and the players' vast ranges, the April Fishes globe-trot from the string-driven Latin number "Poder" to the slinky Argentine milonga "Maintenant" to the spooky Indian raga "Yaad" (dedicated to Marya's late father). Gypsies are known for their wandering ways, but eXtraOrdinary rendition's vibe is so inclusive and celebratory that the record sounds more like a glorious homecoming than scattershot wanderlust.

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Dan Strachota


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