Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tiempo Libre's Afro-Cuban Bach in Havana

Based in Miami, the Cuban Tiempo Libre bring their Afro-Cuban style to the timeless compositions of Bach for a stunning recording on Sony Classical, Bach in Havana. Its a lively romp taking some of the most celebrated musical themes and totally reworking them for an exhilarating ride that will have the listener having an almost impossible time sitting still. This opens with the Carnaval romp, Tu Conga Bach, derived from “Fugue In C Minor, The Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1, which states the theme at the beginning before the layers of percussion and instruments turn up the heat. 

Jorge Gómez, the groups keyboard player recalls his own childhood going to the Russian run Conservatory in Havana where the Afro-Cuban music was forbidden, and then playing their native music at night while going to sleep listening to Bach. Fuga, perhaps stays close to its roots in Sonata in D Minor, with Gómez’s classical training evident in a performance which is enlivened by the spring like rhythms. This is followed by Air on G String, with Paquito D’Rivera featured on alto saxophone and the performance is like a conversation between him and Gómez. D’Rivera, this time on clarinet, is also for Gavotte (Son), based on French Suite No. 5 in G Major, with some stunning trumpet from Chistobal Ferrer García.

Gómez observes that the opening in 
Mi Orisha (6/8 Bala), calls on the Yoruba tradition with a solo on the shekeré by Yosvany Terry, before some lovely piano from Gómez is punctuated by soaring brass lines. By the time the last tones on “Kyrie,” based on (Mass in B Minor), linger in one ear, one has been through an musical journey mixing stunning musicianship, breathtaking grooves and a musical imagination and intelligence that is likely to be recognized as one of the premiere recordings, irrespective of genre, of 2009.

The group’s website is, but this should be relatively easy to find. Incidentally there is a promotion with Java Cabana Coffee in connection with this disc. Go to for a variety of coffees including the commemorative can of Cafe Bustelo Expresso Coffee created to celebrate the release of Bach in Havana, as well as a chance to listen to four tracks and download one tone.

The review copy for this was provided by a publicist for this release. This review appeared originally in the June, 2009 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 317).

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