Tiempo Libre Turns Up The Heat With Irresistible Afro-Caribbean Sounds!

Written by on March 22, 2023

Interview with Jorge Gomez of Tiempo Libre

By: Niki Kaos

Bring your dancing shoes to Universal Preservation Hall Friday, March 24th because Tiempo Libre is ready with sizzling Afro-Caribbean songs that represent three decades of musical creation. There will be popular classics, and compositions from past albums reflecting their classical and jazz backgrounds as well.

Tiempo Libre will be bringing the sizzle to Universal Preservation Hall as part of the Passport series, and they are rolling out the dance floor.

RRX: What is it like to see everyone dancing from the stage during your shows? I assume that must happen a lot with the music you play.

JG: It does! Believe me, we have been playing all around the world. Some places it is hard to get a dance floor. Most of the time we play in a concert house. The concert houses don’t have space to dance.

When you hear the music, it’s all about the energy. When you feel the energy we transmit to you, you stand up. You start dancing like crazy!

RRX: That’s what I feel from your music, that energy. You can’t always stand up in a dance hall, but I might try to find a way!

JG: We’re not playing dance music only. We are going to play different kinds of music. We’re going to play jazz, Latin jazz, we’re going to play even classical music. So, it’s like a Cuban show. It’s not only for dancing.

RRX: Excellent. So, when we need a rest from dancing, we’ll be able to sit and relax, and enjoy the other parts of the program.

JG: Exactly.

RRX: Let’s talk about your 2009 release, Bach in Havana, which showcases your musicianship beautifully. What was it like recording that album?

JG: That was very easy for us. It was a way to tell the audience that we are from Cuba, but we studied classical music for 15 years. And not only Bach. We studied Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Chopin, all of this very difficult, but incredible music. And the idea was to show people what our lives were in Cuba. In the morning, we studied classical music. And in the night, you play Salsa, Rhumba, Cha Cha Cha, in your neighborhood, with your people. And that’s what you hear in the album Bach in Havana.

RRX: A lot of the people in your group are people you grew up playing with. Is that true?

JG: Yes, we started at the same school.

RRX: How long have you been playing music together?

JG: Together in the band?

RRX: No, together as friends?

JG: Well, there was an intermission. (laughs) Because we stuck together in Cuba for 15 years, and then everybody left Cuba. Some of them went to Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and then we all reunited again in Miami in 2001. And that’s when Tiempo Libre band started.

RRX: Nice! I find that bands where the people grew up playing music together have a different kind of synergy that is hard to re-create. You have a bond that is unique and special.

There was a record after Bach in Havana that showed the band’s evolution as a group growing up in Cuba. What is it like to reflect on that album?

JG: The album you are talking about is Panamericano, which is all about our life, but now in Miami. Miami is a mix of a lot of cultures. You have people from Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay.

You woke up every morning, food from all those places, and the album is that base. We have a lot of collaborations with artists from all those countries. And that has helped us a lot in Miami.

RRX: So that album reflects a melting pot of all those different cultures you encountered while you were living in Miami together?

JG: Yes, exactly.

RRX: Are there any favorite songs from your recorded work you always play live? What are you excited to bring to your show on Friday?

JG: We have eight albums, and we try to choose the best songs from each album, plus the songs that everybody wants to hear. Certain songs we play every show because our fans are expecting them. We showcase our best picks in two 45-minute sets.

RRX: It sounds amazing! Salsa dance lessons provided by Tango Fusion Dance Company before the show starting at 7pm sweeten the night and are included with admission! People can visit the Universal Preservation Hall website for more information and to purchase tickets for the show Friday, March 24th – doors at 7pm and show at 8pm.

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