Three-time Grammy-nominated Tiempo Libre is one the hottest young Latin bands today. Equally at home in concert halls, jazz clubs, and dance venues, the members of the Miami-based band are modern heirs to the rich tradition of the music of their native Cuba. The group’s members were all classically trained at La ENA, Cuba’s premiere conservatory during the “Special Period” in Cuba. Today, the group is a hit in the U.S. and abroad, celebrated for its incendiary, joyful performances of timba, an irresistible, dance-inducing mix of high-voltage Latin jazz and the seductive rhythms of son.
Recently signed to Sony, the group released its latest album Bach in Havana – a fusion of Bach with Afro-Cuban rhythms featuring guest tracks by Paquito d’Rivera and Yosvany Terry. Bach’s music has been an inspiration to the members of Tiempo Libre since their school days, and many of Bach’s masterpieces make appearances on the album. The CD was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album and is currently being played on more than 200 radio stations. Millions of television viewers enjoyed the group’s performance of “Tu Conga Bach” on Dancing with the Stars. In conjunction with the CD release, Bustelo Café changed its coffee can to feature Tiempo Libre with a free music download.
Tiempo Libre was invited to collaborate on “Para Tí” with violinist Joshua Bell, which was featured on Bell’s album At Home with Friends. The group also performed with Bell on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center, and on WNYC Soundcheck. In 2008, Tiempo Libre brought its Afro-Cuban beat to flutist Sir James Galway’s album, O’Reilly Street, released by the RCA Red Seal label.
Following up being named “Best Latin Band 2008” by the Miami New Times, Tiempo Libre brought a Cuban experience to its American home-town of Miami, with the musical production Miami Libre, which premiered at The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts featuring a cast of 25, including Tiempo Libre’s members. Based on the band’s collective immigrant experience, Miami Libre is told through English and Spanish narrative, sizzling music, and explosive dance.
Since their formation in 2001, the members of Tiempo Libre have been on a mission: to share the musical heritage in which they grew up with a wide audience, reinvigorating traditional Cuban music with a youthful, modern sound, and forging a new style from the meeting of their Cuban roots and their new American experience.
Tiempo Libre made their Summer Ravinia Festival debut in 2002 opening for Celia Cruz. They were quickly re-engaged by Ravinia for 2003, where they shared a bill with Aretha Franklin, performing before a crowd of 20,000. Return trips to Asia have included shows at Hong Kong’s Kwai Tsing Theatre, the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and at the 2005 Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia. The group’s U.S. touring schedule has included performances at the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl, Miami’s JVC Jazz Festival, Yoshi’s in Oakland, CA, SOB’s in New York City, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Celebrate Brooklyn, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Festival International de Louisiane, Rochester International Jazz Festival, Royal Conservatory in Toronto, Lincoln Theater in Napa Valley, Boston’s Sculler’s Jazz Club, Kimmel Center, Orange County Performing Arts Center, California Center for the Arts, New Haven Jazz Festival, California World Fest, Lotus Music Festival, and New York’s River-to-River Festival at the South Street Seaport, as well as the Colorado, Interlochen, Green, and Eastern Music Festivals. Among the highlights of the group’s 2005 European tour was a performance at the closing concert of the new Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona, Italy where the band wowed a sold-out house. Subsequent tours have brought sold-out houses in Italy, Greece, and Turkey.
In 2005, Tiempo Libre made their debut album, Arroz con Mango, which was both a tribute to the deep Cuban roots of Tiempo Libre’s members and a celebration of their new life in the U.S. The album received tremendous attention in the press and was featured in Latin Beat, Hispanic Magazine, Jazziz, and American Airlines’ American Way Magazine. Fulfilling the meaning of its title (“arroz con mango” is a Cuban slang expression meaning something completely out of the ordinary), the album was nominated for a 2006 Grammy Award in the category of Best Salsa Meringue Album. A year later, the band released Lo Que Esperabas – What You’ve Been Waiting For, for which the group was nominated for its second Grammy, this time for Best Latin Tropical album.
In 2007, Tiempo Libre embarked upon another exciting project, the creation of a new work – Rumba Sinfónica – for symphony orchestra and Cuban band. The composition, a collaboration with Venezuelan composer Ricardo Lorenz, was commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Ravinia Festival, and Festival of the Arts Boca. Since its premiere in Minneapolis in 2007, Tiempo Libre has performed Rumba Sinfónica with the National Arts Centre and Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestras, and the DuPage, Syracuse, Dallas, Portland (ME), San Antonio, North Carolina, and Hartford Symphonies.
In addition to their performing and recording careers, the members of Tiempo Libre are committed to sharing their rich musical traditions through outreach and educational activities and have participated in residency programs at Michigan State University and Interlochen Academy. The group has also become known for its inspiring classes on rumba, Latin jazz, and traditional Cuban music, designed to reach audiences of all ages and backgrounds.