The Cuban band, Tiempo Libre had the acclaimed fusion of Bach with Afro-Cuban rhythms, Bach in Havana and now return with a new spirited release of their timba music, – the mix of Latin jazz and danceable Afro-Cuban rhythms on the new Sony Masterworks release, My Secret Radio. According to publicity for this release, the title evokes their teenage years when living in Cuba they would listen to the forbidden American radio. The lyrics to the songs here deal with both sides of the immigrant experience – from the secret radio sessions which fueled dreams of life in America to the perplexities of starting life in a new country. Guest appearances are made by Cuban songstress Albita with whom they are reunited, and vocalist Rachelle Fleming.
They cite a variety of influences in their music including Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan and Gloria Esteban while citing Earth Wind & Fire as an inspiration. Equally impressive is the hot roots of their time growing up in Cuba that results in hot rhythms, blistering horns and exuberant vocals. Not conversant in Spanish, I was unable to understand the lyrical themes, but from the opening Lo Mio Primero - (My Turn), with the crisp horns and tight rhythms to the hot trumpet and ensemble vocals of the closing Mi Antena (My Antenna), with leader’s Jorge Gomez strong piano setting the tone, one will be hard-pressed to keep from dancing.
Guest vocalist Albita joins for a reflective ballad Como Hace Años - (Just Like Years Ago), displaying a lovely voice with Gomez marvelous in his accompaniment as well as arrangement. Rachelle Fleming sings a duet with Joaquin Diaz, Fleming in English and Diaz in Spanish, as Earth Wind and Fire’s After the Love Is Gone, in a playful cha cha rendition. One instrumental, Aceite - (Oil), is a lively tribute to the marvelous musical association between Dizzy Gillespie and the great Chano Pozo, with the sizzling playing doing justice to the legacies of the two legends.
My Secret Radio continues the musical odyssey of Tiempo Libre that exhibits their superb artistry and ability the move the body and soul.
My review copy was provided by a publicist for the release.