skip navigation

Tiempo Libre

Beacon Online News

Athens moves to the beat of Tiempo Libre's 'energy music'

Beacon Online News

Friday, April 24, 2009

by Jeff Shepherd

Tiempo Libre vive!

The seven Cuban musicians of Tiempo Libre were lively indeed at DeLand's Athens Theatre April 23 when they performed as part of the Daytona Beach International Festival.

The timba band, Miami-based and twice nominated for Grammys, had many of the 300 or so in the Athens on their feet by the finish of the two-hour show.

"It's energy music," said Peter Alexander of DeLand.

Lead singer (and lead dancer) Joaquin "El Kid" Díaz moved nonstop. Elvis had nothing on this kid in the pelvis department.

"It is so much fun to hear so much percussion," Tom Gilbert of DeLand said.

Leandro González played congas and Hilario Bell played drums, and occasionally another band mate would strike some rims and skins. Poly-rhythms abounded.

There was much audience participation. Pianist and musical director Jorge Gomez suggested dancing in the aisles would be appropriate. Few if any in the crowd appeared to respond until the encore, but earlier in the concert Díaz invited pairs of dancers to the stage. One couple had the courage to accept his offer.

Lianne Fernández, originally from Cuba, and her husband, Wendell Christensen, originally from Iowa, cut a rug. They performed as if they had rehearsed. After the show they assured me their act was impromptu.

"I was born in Cuba and left when I was a baby," Fernández said. "Listening to their music brought back many wonderful memories of great sounds, great times, and great parties, too! Tiempo Libre was wonderful!"

Many in the crowd were also impelled to sing along with the band on "Guantanamera" ("the girl from Guantánamo"). Diaz asked the audience to respond to his call of "kikiribu" by singing "mandinga," which they did.

Kikiribu is a Cuban lyrical expression with no specific meaning, used for its sound and its rhythm, like a scat singer would use "oopbopshbam," according to Adriana Collado.

After the show, I interviewed Cuban-born Collado, who is a copy editor for the Spanish-language newspaper El Sentinel.

According to Collado, Mandinga is an ethnic African group whose song forms were interwoven in Cuban music, in part through slave trade.

Tiempo Libre's songs were all in Spanish. If you closed your eyes, you would think you were at a block party in Little Havana. According to Gomez, that is what the songs are all about.

"How we live in the U.S., the food, the society, and that we never forget where we come from," Gomez said.

Also featured in Tiempo Libre are Cristobal Ferrer Garcia on trumpet, Tebelio "Tony" Fonte on bass, and Luis Beltran Castillo on saxophone and flute.

read the full article: Beacon Online News