skip navigation

Tiempo Libre

Tiempo Libre: Once banned for listening to American music in Cuba and now . .

Saturday, February 7, 2015

If my Spanish was bueno, "tiempo libre" translates into "free time."
Perhaps that's why Tiempo Libre uses that as the band's title. Three Grammy nominations, a worldwide reputation for its joyous and sophisticated concerts of the Cuban style of music called timba–a high-energy combination of Latin jazz and the traditional style of Cuban music called "son." As Jorge Gómez, the band’s musical director and pianist puts it, their sound is “a mix of jazz with the flavor of Cuban music, like putting together Buena Vista Social Club and Chick Corea.”
See what he means: The Pittsburgh Cultural trust hosts Tiempo Libre on Wednesday, February 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Byham Theater.
Here's a sneak peak to their most recent music video here:
To the members of the now Miami-based group Tiempo Libre, music isn’t just a way of life, it’s a way of experiencing living. They approach their concerts as Cuban music parties. Audience members may choose whether to be a guest who sits back and enjoys the sophisticated music performed by these conservatory-trained musicians or one who claps, dances and sings along to the band’s joyous sound. There hasn't been a concert yet where people haven't danced in the aisles. Tiempo Libre’s goal is to serve as ambassadors to their Cuban musical heritage, while celebrating their new American experience.
The Cuban government forbade its citizens to listen to American radio when the members of Tiempo Libre were growing up in Cuba. But, like teenagers everywhere, that which was forbidden was what the members of Tiempo Libre most desired. The musicians fashioned antennas out of salvaged aluminum foil and clothes hangers and climbed up on their rooftops secretly at night to catch music from Miami airwaves. This music fueled their dreams of living in America and ultimately gave them the strength to leave it all behind–families, friends, and a country, a life–to pursue those dreams.
Through Tiempo Libre’s most recent timba album, My Secret Radio, the seven musicians express the thrill of their secret rooftop radio sessions as well as the difficulties they faced starting from scratch in America, a culture so foreign and different from Cuba.
Just as jazz has travelled from New Orleans to Chicago, New York and around the world, Tiempo Libre’s members see Cuban timba music as a living, breathing art form that continues to evolve over time. Tiempo Libre's sound honors the group's Cuban musical heritage, while incorporating their American experiences–funk, hip-hop, rap, jazz, ska and pop. Tiempo Libre’s members are pure timberos. They listen to timba, they play it, they dance it, and they live it. And as Cubans now living in the U.S., they absorb the musical nutrients of this country and incorporate them into their sound.
Today, having reunited in Miami, having formed the first all-Cuban timba group in the U.S., earned three Grammy nominations, performed on NPR, at The Hollywood Bowl, at Jazz at Lincoln Center, as well as on TV's The Tonight Show (with Joshua Bell) and Dancing with the Stars, Tiempo Libre's musicians are truly living the American dream.
There is not a moment the group takes for granted. Says the group’s pianist and musical director Jorge Gómez, "Every record we make, every concert we play seems like a gift. Each time we are about to walk on stage, I get a tingling sensation, that thrill that starts at the base of the spine and fills me with euphoria. It's that same thrill I felt up on that roof under the twinkling Havana stars, listening to my secret radio."
Tickets range from $45-$30, and are available by calling 412.456.6666. Student rush tickets are also available one hour before this performance at 50% off the price.