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Tiempo Libre brings Cuban music to Durango

Revered as one of the hottest young Latin bands performing today, Tiempo Libre brings Cuban world music to the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15.

The dance floor will be open.

Classically trained at Cuba’s premiere conservatories, Tiempo Libre’s Miami-based members are said to be the contemporary heirs to the rich tradition of the music of their native country. Today, the three-time Grammy nominated group is a hit in the U.S. and abroad, celebrated for its incendiary, joyful performances of “timba,” the irresistible dance-inducing, high voltage Latin jazz.

The band is touring in support of its latest release, the breakthrough album “My Secret Radio,” which revisits the Tiempo Libre members’ teenage years in Cuba — a time when the government forbade its citizens to listen to American music. Inspired by their Afro-Cuban tradition, but eager to catch the new trends and sounds coming from the U.S., Tiempo Libre’s members fashioned homemade rooftop antennas out of aluminum foil and wire coat hangers to discover American pop, soul and jazz. The secret radio sessions fueled the band’s dream of living in America, and gave the musicians the strength it took to leave families, friends and country to pursue those dreams.

“Their music is contagiously celebratory,” writes Emily Loftis in Mother Jones of “My Secret Radio.”

“The snappy motion of Afro-Cuban conga beats creates the illusion of a fast-forwarded video clip... High notes pop off the keyboard, while funk is pulled through the bass. A sort of call-and-response plays out between the jazzy trumpet, saxophone, flute, and swinging Spanish lyrics mourning love lost and liberties gained.”

Prior to forming the band, Tiempo Libre’s members all enjoyed thriving careers in Latin music, performing, touring and recording with artists such as Albita, Cachao, Arturo Sandoval, NG La Banda and more. In 2001, the seven musicians united to realize their collective musical goal to create the first authentic, all-Cuban timba band in the United States. They came together between other projects to develop their new style, hence the name Tiempo Libre or “Free Time.”

Tiempo Libre is Musical Director Jorge Gomez (keyboard), Raul Rodriguez (trumpet), Leandro Gonzalez (congas), Tebelio (Tony) Fonte, (bass), Armando (Pututi) Arce (drums), Joaquin (El Kid) Diaz (lead vocal), and Luis Beltran Castillo (sax and flute).

About Tiempo Libre, Timba.com wrote, “Miami-based with Cuba in their DNA, this septet is a party animal of a band… The band is as tight as a pair of newly washed blue jeans, and the percussion sizzles like grilled onions. A yummy feast.”

Tickets for Tiempo Libre, ($25/$35) are available online at www.durangoconcerts.com or by calling 247-7657. All sales final.

Showtime is 7:30 p.m., with doors to the Concert Hall and concessions, serving beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, opening at 6:30.

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