La música de Tiempo Libre está caliente!

December 3, 2012

Popular Cuban band performs in Ludington Saturday

LUDINGTON – The three-time Grammy-nominated Cuban music group Tiempo Libre is one of the hottest young bands today. It performs Saturday night at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts as part of the West Shore Community College cultural arts series.

Equally at home in concert halls, jazz clubs and dance venues, Tiempo Libre’s Miami-based members are true modern heirs to the rich tradition of the music of their native Cuba. Classically trained at Cuba’s premier conservatories, today the group is a hit in the U.S. and abroad, celebrated for its sophisticated performances of timba, a joyous mix of high-voltage Latin jazz and the seductive rhythms of son.

Sony Masterworks released the group’s latest timba recording, My Secret Radio, in May, 2011. The album pays homage to Tiempo Libre’s teenage years in Cuba, a time when the government forbade its citizens to listen to American music, and Russia pulled its support from the island. Inspired by their Afro-Cuban tradition, but eager to catch the new trends and sounds coming from the U.S., Tiempo Libre’s members would fashion homemade antennas and secretly listen to the music pulsating from Miami radio stations at night.

These secret radio sessions fueled Tiempo Libre’s dreams of living in America, free to perform their songs and build the careers they wanted, while helping them gather the strength that it took to leave it all behind – families, friends, a country, a life – to pursue those dreams. The CD is their tribute to the many powerful voices that rocked their world, including Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, Gloria Estefan and Earth Wind & Fire. The album features guest performances by jazz singer Rachelle Fleming and reunites Tiempo Libre founder Jorge Gómez with the legendary Cuban songstress Albita. My Secret Radio, and the inspiring story behind it, has been featured on Fox News’ Real American Stories, CNN en Español, PRI’s The World, Mega TV’s Bayly and in Mother Jones and People En Español. Better TV captured Tiempo Libre pianist and musical director Jorge Gómez’s emotional first time meeting with the members of Earth, Wind & Fire, when he recounted how inspiring their music was to him.

Tiempo Libre’s first recording for Sony Masterworks, Bach in Havana, was nominated for a Grammy award for “Best Tropical Latin Album” and featured tracks with Paquito D’Rivera and Yosvany Terry. The CD, a fusion of Bach with Afro-Cuban rhythms, reflects the duality of Tiempo Libre’s childhood days studying classical music and nights spent playing timba music. Released in May, 2009, the album received airplay on more than 200 radio stations, was hailed by Latin Jazz Network as “a landmark recording in the sense that Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue was approximately 50 years ago” and was selected as a best pick in new Latin music by The Miami Herald. The group performed “Tu Conga Bach” from the CD on Dancing with the Stars. In conjunction with the release of Bach in Havana, the family behind Bustelo Café – for the first time in 80 years – changed its Bustelo Café coffee can to feature Tiempo Libre with a free music download.

In addition to stand-alone concerts, the members of Tiempo Libre draw on their rigorous classical training and introduce Cuban music to new audiences through performances with leading classical artists and orchestras. The group was invited to collaborate on the duet “Para Ti” with violinist Joshua Bell, which was featured on Bell’s album At Home with Friends. The group also performed the track with Bell on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, the Live From Lincoln Center: Joshua Bell @ Home with Friends PBS Special and on WNYC radio’s popular program Soundcheck. In the fall of 2008, Tiempo Libre brought its dynamic Afro-Cuban beat to leading flautist Sir James Galway’s album, O’Reilly Street, released by the RCA Red Seal label.

The album features an exciting Latin jazz arrangement of music from the Claude Bolling Jazz Suites including “Baroque and Blue”, as well as a timba take on Bach’s “Badinerie” and a number of vibrant new compositions all by Tiempo Libre’s musical director and pianist Jorge Gómez. The result is rich in the traditions of multiple genres, authentic yet emotionally seductive, transcending the borders between classical, jazz and Cuban music.

Tiempo Libre’s musical director Jorge Gómez and University of Miami’s Frost School of Music’s Raul Murciano collaborated to create a medley of traditional cha-cha-chás, sones, mambos and boleros as well as selections from Tiempo Libre’s Bach in Havana, which the band has performed with leading orchestras including the Oregon Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, The Lexington Philharmonic, The Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Austin Symphony, The San Francisco Symphony and The Cleveland Orchestra.

In March 2012, The Cleveland Orchestra, under the leadership of conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, invited Tiempo Libre to develop and launch the bilingual educational family concert program, Crossings~Travesías, for The Orchestra’s annual residency at Miami’s Arsht Center. The musical journey explored the DNA of orchestral musical tradition from its early origins in Africa, through Europe, to the Caribbean and Latin America to the modern day concert hall. The Cleveland Orchestra and Tiempo Libre performed Crossings~Travesías for over 4,000 Miami Dade public school students, as well as to thousands of Miami audience members of all ages. True to Tiempo Libre’s philosophy that music is not just a way of life, it’s a way of experiencing living, each of the concerts invited young people to take part in the rhythmic fun.

In Spring 2007, Tiempo Libre embarked upon the creation of a new work – Rumba Sinfónica – for symphony orchestra and Cuban band. The composition, a collaboration with the highly-respected Venezuelan classical composer Ricardo Lorenz, was commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Ravinia Festival and the Festival of the Arts Boca. Since its premiere in Minneapolis in November, 2007, Tiempo Libre has performed Rumba Sinfónica with a number of orchestras including: the National Arts Centre, Dallas Symphony and Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestras and the DuPage, Syracuse, Portland (ME), San Antonio, North Carolina, Jerusalem Symphonies and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to their performing and recording careers, the members of Tiempo Libre are particularly committed to the sharing of their rich musical traditions through outreach and educational activities and have participated in artist in residence programs at Michigan State University, Interlochen Academy, Indiana University and with the Cleveland Orchestra. The group has also become known for its inspiring classes on rumba, Latin jazz and traditional Cuban music, designed to reach audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Following up being named “Best Latin Band 2008” by the Miami New Times, Tiempo Libre brought a true Cuban experience to its American home-town of Miami, with the interactive musical production Miami Libre, which premiered at The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in July, 2008, featuring a cast of 25, including Tiempo Libre’s seven members. Miami Libre, based on the band’s collective immigrant experience, is told through English and Spanish narrative, sizzling music and explosive dance.

Tiempo Libre’s members were all enjoying thriving careers in Latin music performing, touring and recording with such artists as Albita, Cachao, Arturo Sandoval, NG La Banda, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Isaac Delgado, when the seven extraordinary musicians came together to realize their collective musical dream: to create the first authentic all-Cuban timba band in the United States. Their eagerness to share their music with others led these multi-talented individuals to come together between projects to develop their new style together, hence the name Tiempo Libre (Free Time).

Saturday’s performance is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets may be reserved by calling (231) 843-5507. The group will also hold a master class, featuring an introduction to Cuban music, 1 p.m. on the LACA stage. The master class is free.



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