World music has become fashionable only in the last decade - despite the fact that cross-cultural music has been around for centuries. In Spain, the sounds of the Iberian Christians, the Sephardic Jews, and the Moorish invaders percolated together for hundreds of years, but it was the arrival of the gypsies in the 1700s that provided the catalyst for the evolution of a new musical style. That style is Flamenco. Today, the signature sounds of flamenco are easy to recognize; the rapid-fire guitar strumming, the ecstatic hand and foot percussion, and most of all, the fiery, passionate vocals. Rafael Jimenez is a gypsy singer who has mastered the distinctive sound of flamenco singing - a style often referred to as the torn throat because of its raw, emotional impact. Cante Gitano is a remarkable collection of original works for voice, flamenco guitar, and percussion that continues the great tradition of Flamenco while at the same time subtly extending the boundaries of the style.From the opening seconds of the recording, when the tabla drums of India enter, it is obvious that Cante Gitano is part of a living heritage, not a museum piece. India, of course, is where the gypsy culture is thought to have begun; the use of Indian drums here is untraditional simply because no one had apparently thought of it before. For the most part, though, the music centers on Jimenez and his guitarist, the redoubtable Canito. Perhaps the most striking composition on the recording is the last one, A Enrique El Mellizo, a tribute to one of the great singers of Flamenco's Golden Age in the nineteenth century. El Mellizo, the story goes, was inspired by the chants of nearby Cadiz cathedral to write his famous Malaguena. Rafael Jimenez and a full Gregorian Choir perform a moving tribute and at the same time create a unique sonic tapestry.Rafael Jimenez has carved a place for himself. Unlike some of his colleagues, he has not fused or diluted Flamenco with rock, salsa, jazz, African, or classical music (all of which have been done within the past decade). But he has allowed the shrinking, cross-cultural world all musicians now inhabit to color his work, without resorting to electronics or studio gadgetry. Recorded in Madrid by Juan Antonio Suarez, who co-composed most of the music, Cante Gitano bears the unmistakable stamp of authentic Flamenco music, and the equally unmistakable sound of that music in the twentieth century.