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Bach In Havana by Tiempo Libre

Hailing from Cuba, and touted as the "first authentic all-Cuban timba band in the United States," the players have since relocated to Miami, Fla. Recently signing with SONY Masterworks, the unit serves up a huge contrast via these remarkably fluid integrations of Bach with the Afro-Cuban element.

They’ve been creating a stir due to their recordings and energized live performances amid Grammy nominations and a wonderful release in support of world-class flautist James Galway on O’ Reilly Street for RCA’s Red Seal label. Moreover, this album served as my first introduction to the septet’s expansive vernacular and superior craftsmanship. Here, the musicians forge a cerebral musical mindset with the rhythms of life, and topped off with the Latin jazz component. In effect, they pack a resounding punch as they keenly splice Bach’s fugue’s and sonata’s into buoyant and emotive storylines, sparked by sassy horns choruses and their energized solo spots.

The band uses Bach’s "Prelude No. 2 in C Minor, BWV847" for the underscore of the piece titled "Clave in C Minor," where they morph a complex little big band motif into weaving textures, abetted by pianist Jorge Gomez’ cascading progressions. And while the musicians execute like that proverbial, finely-tuned machine, they communicate good cheer throughout.

Bach’s legendary harmonic techniques are contrasted during "Mi Orisha," which is based on the composer’s "Minuet from C Minor French Suite." On this piece, the band embeds indigenous African percussion instruments into a pulsating schema that is softened by Gomez’ delicate piano phrasings and warmly designed horns parts. Yet, they raise the pitch by fusing multicolored choruses and cheery vocals into the core Latin constituent.

No doubt, the musicians ingrain their performances within a peppery and festive Afro-Cuban panorama. Within various arrangements, they subdivide Bach melodies into horns, and keys passages. Overall, it’s a seamless fusion of disparate stylizations, although the ensemble projects a worldly view and express notions that innumerable genres can coalesce within the proper hands. The artists reinforce the premise that music in general, is a illimitable frontier. (Album release is May 5, 2009).

Tiempo Libre will perform at Dizzy's Club Cocoa Cola at Lincoln Center, June 30.nPlease visit for additional tour dates.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Tiempo Libre
  • CD Title: Bach In Havana
  • Genre: Latin Jazz / Latin Funk
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: SONY Masterworks
  • Musicians: Jorge Gomez (Music director, arranger, keyboards, background vox), Joaquin “El Kid” Diaz (lead vocals), Leandro Gonzalez (congas, background vox), Tebello “Tony” Fonte (electric bass, background vox), Cristobal Ferrer Garcia (trumpet), Hilario Bell (percussion, timbales), Luis “Rosca” Beltran Castillo (tenor saxophone)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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