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Tiempo Libre

The Columbus Dispatch

Cuban rhythms of Miami band to beckon dancers

The Columbus Dispatch

Thursday, August 13, 2009

by Juan Miranda

Despite their training in classical music, the musicians yearned for the sounds of Cuba -- timba, salsa and conga.

The members of Tiempo Libre combined their traditional learning with the passionate music of their homeland to become stars.

The band is one of the headliners this year at Festival Latino.

Each member, having grown up in Cuba, attended Escuela Nacional de Arte (the National School of Art), a conservatory of classical music in Havana.

After spending their days exploring Bach and Beethoven, the students threw themselves into the rhythms of the cha-cha.

"We studied classical music in school, but in the evenings we'd get together to play timba and salsa," said Jorge Gomez, musical director and pianist for Tiempo Libre.

The young men fled Cuba for a life in Miami, where the group is based.

"We met here in Miami," Gomez said. "Each one worked with different musicians."

They wanted to create a band to play authentic Cuban music, Gomez said, so eight years ago they formed Tiempo Libre -- "free time" in Spanish.

The name highlights the fact that, regardless of their other involvements, the members spent their free time playing the music they loved.

The group has received two Grammy Award nominations and done performances nationwide.

Last year, the Miami New Times named Tiempo Libre the best Latin band in a city filled with illustrious Latin musicians.

"It's fantastic," Gomez said. "It's the dream that we've all been chasing.

"I like the reaction that people have when we play: They always get up and dance. Our music interests them very much. When we sign CDs at the end, they always ask us questions."

Much of the music is inspired by common occurrences in the lives of the musicians.

"It has to do with society -- the day-in, day-out living moments," Gomez said. "We write what happens, and we put it to music."

Dispatch Fronteras, the Spanish-language publication of The Dispatch, serves as media sponsor of the festival.

read the full article: The Columbus Dispatch