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Tiempo Libre

A Timba Eclipse: Tiempo Libre Nos Enseñó La Cosa

Friday, March 23, 2007

by Katherine Bonalos

Almost as a musical foreshadowing of Tuesday’s lunar eclipse, the musical planets were in perfect position a few hours earlier at Yoshi’s Jazz Club in Oakland Monday night. For approximately three spectacular hours that evening, the orbits of musicians, dancers, and music lovers were in total alignment, creating new colors, sounds and shadows that could only be experienced by ecstatic observers (some of whom traveled as far as Sacramento, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles) fortunate enough to witness it first hand.

The featured Monday night act was none other than the Miami-based timba group Tiempo Libre (TL), who in the last six years have transformed from a relatively unknown “dwarf star” to a celestial timba body with fans now scattered across the globe. Band director/pianista Jorge Gómez continually attributes much of the band’s growing success, which includes Grammy nominations for their last two albums (Arroz con mango and Lo que esperabas), to TL’s diverse audience base. The band (which also includes Joaquín “El Kid” Díaz on vocals, Tony Fonte on bass, Leo González on congas, Hilario Bell on drums, Luis “El Rosca” Beltran Castillo on sax/flute and newcomer Raúl Rodríguez Hernández on trumpet) derives much of its musical inspiration and on-stage energy from the special connections TL makes with its fans.

First-timers and veteran timba stargazers in attendance that night were treated to two new dazzling TL tunes – the first, Quédate (a brilliant reincarnation of a song originally recorded by lead singer El Kid from an earlier solo album) as well as the concert premiere of Mujer de fuego (a new and surprising adaptation of a song TL first recorded on their debut Timbiando album). Rumor has it that TL is cooking up more original tunes for their next album, scheduled to be released sometime in 2008. Let’s hope these two amazing songs make the album cut.

In addition to the new songs, TL’s concert recipe Monday night also included the flavorful Arroz con mango, as well as some cafecito con leche (as sung in their rendition of El cuarto de Tula), the ever popular La cosa, and a refreshing Bilongo solo whipped up by visiting pianista Tony Pérez.

Undoubtedly many of those in attendance at Yoshi’s Monday night woke up the next morning with that gleeful musical hangover, with rhythmical remnants of the previous night’s performance still beating in their heads.

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