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Tiempo Libre

Miami Herald

Keeping the beat

Miami Herald

Sunday, June 18, 2006

by Jordan Levin


Longing for wider prospects also drove Jorge Gomez to leave in 1994, as the ''special period'' of economic crisis sent tens of thousands of other Cubans fleeing.

He lived in Central America for six years, before arriving in Miami in 2000, where he launched his own group, Tiempo Libre, to play timba, the driving, poly-rhythmic dance music that evolved in Cuba in the 1990s and still dominates the island's clubs.

Made up of former members of leading timba bands, Tiempo Libre has performed with stars such as Celia Cruz and James Brown, and just released its third album, What You've Been Waiting For. Critics have praised their energy and expertise: ''An able ambassador of the fertile tradition they represent,'' wrote Jazziz Magazine.

Although he misses the intensity and camaraderie of playing on the island, Gomez has no regrets.

''In Cuba, music is primordial -- it's life,'' he says. "But you're disconnected from the world, because you're there with the party that never ends. You lose something in Cuba that you're never going to have here.

"But here -- above all -- you can make your dreams come true. Musically you have the possibility of growing. We can play all over the world. If you triumph in the United States, you can triumph anywhere.''

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