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Tiempo Libre

Daily Local

World music set in Philadelphia

Daily Local

Thursday, May 7, 2009

by Denny Dyroff

Fans of world music are in for a treat this weekend. On Friday night, the Cuban band Tiempo Libre will play at the Kimmel Center. On Saturday night, the Painted Bride Art Center will present Sidi Goma, a musical group from India.

Sidi Goma is different than most of the Indian musicians who tour America. Based in the northern state of Gujarat, Sidis are Muslim Sufis dedicated to Bava Gor, a black African saint. They migrated from Africa to India more than eight centuries ago.

The tradition of this community of faqirs is to celebrate through music and dance the gifts brought to them by Bava Gor. Some of their instruments are tribal drums and the malunga, a one-stringed musical bow.

Sidi Goma features four lead musicians (drummers and singers) and eight dancers. Their program offers an overview of the Sidi ritual performance - from the traditional muezzin call to prayer to a stage demonstration of a damal, which is described as ecstatic dancing to drums in praise of Bava Gor.

Tiempo Libre also incites ecstatic dancing - by audience members. Now based in Miami, the group is the first authentic all-Cuban timba band in America. Timba combines elements of traditional Cuban music -- salsa, jazz, rock and hip hop.

Since its formation in 2001, Tiempo Libre has been on a mission to spread the popularity of Cuban music. The band was formed by a number of former students at La ENA, which is Havana's premier music college.

"We all went to La ENA, but not at the same time," said pianist/musical director Jorge Gomez during a recent phone interview. "Our first show was opening for Celia Cruz. The high moment for us so far is when we were nominated for a Grammy.

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