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Tiempo Libre

World Music Central

Artist Profile: Tiempo Libre

World Music Central

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

by Angel Romero

Childhood friends Tiempo Libre’s members individually fled from Cuba and eventually reunited in Miami where they enjoyed thriving careers performing touring and recording with such artists as Albita, Cachao and Arturo Sandoval. In their free time or Tiempo Libre in Spanish, the seven musicians would come together to realize their collective musical dream of forming the first all-Cuban timba group in the U.S.

Moving against a tide of predictions that a broad musical audience would not embrace the timba music native to their homeland they formed their group in 2001. Years later they are recognized as the leading creators and performers of timba music outside of Cuba. Tiempo Libre are keeping the timba tradition fresh and evolving through their unique blend of classical, Cuban and American influences.

Their extensive tour history includes concerts at prestigious venues around the world. They have performed on The Tonight Show, Dancing with the Stars, numerous shows on Telemundo and Univision and have received airplay on numerous radio stations. Tiempo Libre even achieved the Cuban equivalent of being on a box of Wheaties by having their likeness featured on a million Cafe Bustelo coffee cans throughout the United States.

Tiempo Libre’s first recording for Sony Masterworks, Bach in Havana was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Tropical Latin Album. The album, a fusion of Bach with Afro-Cuban rhythms featuring guest tracks by Paquito D’Rivera and Yosvany Terry was released in May 2009. The group’s previous two albums Arroz Con Mango and Lo Que Esperabas on the Shanachie label were both nominated for Grammys. The group starred in a musical production Miami Libre inspired by its collective immigrant experiences at Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center.

In Fall 2008 Tiempo Libre was hand-picked by classical music’s celebrity flute player James Galway to arrange and record O’Reilly Street which included an Afro-Cuban take on music from the jazz suites of Claude Bolling.

In 2011 Tiempo Libre released My Secret Radio. Tiempo Libre’s line-up in 2011 included musical director Jorge Gómez on keyboard; Raul Rodriguez on trumpet; Leandro Gonzalez on congas; Tebelio (Tony) Fonte on bass; Armando (Pututi) Arce on drums; Joaquin (El Kid) Diaz on lead vocal; and Luis Beltran Castillo on saxophone & flute.

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