Tiempo Libre is a two-time Grammy-nominated Cuban music group on their way to a third nomination with their latest CD Bach in Havana. They have taken a series of beautiful J.S. Bach pieces and infused them with Tiempo Libre's rich Cuban musical heritage to create a unique blend of Classical/Cuban music that is immensely enjoyable, musically invigorating and cuts across numerous cultural lines.
The members of Tiempo Libre were all classically trained at La ENA, Cuba’s premiere conservatory during a time when it was illegal to listen to American songs on the radio. Jorge Gómez, the music director and arranger, describes each piece in the liner notes, how the music of Bach was incorporated into or animated with Cuban rhythms. Some of the music is immediately identifiable and other's the "collaboration" is more indirect. Each piece is a delightful excursion into new territory of places we've been so often before it seems impossible there would be anything new to find and yet, Tiempo Libre has done just that. The marriage of the classical background of these musicians with their cultural heritage makes the bond of Bach and Batá (or Conga, Son, Timba or Guaguancó) a perfect fit, and incredibly unique. From the fast paced Conga of Tu Conga Bach to the romantic, rich Air on a G String with the sumptuous melody played by Paquito D'Rivera on the alto saxophone, this album shows the timeless nature of Classical music, bringing a new depth to these timeless pieces.
It is perhaps a bit early to award Tiempo Libre with a Grammy already, but if they don't earn yet another nomination for this album something is seriously wrong with the nomination process. If you love Bach, if you love Latin music, if you have any love of music at all you will find this album a necessary addition to your collection.