Havana Musical Secrets

Tiempo Libre - My Secret Radio
Tiempo Libre

My Secret Radio (Sony Masterworks, 2011)

Tiempo Libre is undoubtedly one of the best timba band in the United States. Timba is the powerful mix of contemporary Latin jazz and danceable Afro-Cuban rhythms. On their new album, My Secret Radio, the Miami-based band has left aside its experiments with classical music and focuses on pure timba.

My Secret Radio makes reference to the seven Cuban band members who secretly listened to American music during their teenage years in Havana. “Up on the rooftop, this forbidden music thrilled us. We could forget how hungry we were, physically and musically. It opened up a whole world for us to hear artists like Michael Jackson, Chaka Kahn and Cuba’s own Gloria Estefan. Earth Wind & Fire was also a huge musical inspiration to us. With their Afro-Cuban percussion, hard-hitting brass and danceable rhythms, we thought they were playing a kind of American timba! We didn’t realize at the time that virtually no one in America even knew timba existed,” recalls Tiempo Libre founder and musical director Jorge Gómez

My Secret Radio is Tiempo Libre’s ‘homenaje’ (tribute) to the essential voices that they cherished. It also contemplates the life of an immigrant in their new country. “My Secret Radio reflects both sides of the immigrant experience,” explains Gómez. “In ’Prende La Radio’ and ‘Mi Antenna’ we speak directly about our ‘radio days’ in Havana, while in songs like ‘Mecánica’ we refer to some of the many difficulties one encounters starting from scratch in a completely new country, confronting situations one could never have imagined. ‘San Antonio’ is our homage to that wonderful city and to the memorable reception we received from San Antonio Spurs three-time NBA champ Bruce Bowen,” continues Gómez.

My Secret Radio includes guest performances by high profile singers “After the Love is Gone” includes vocals in English and Spanish, by Rachelle Fleming and lead singer Joaquin Díaz. It is a cha-cha-chá based on Earth Wind & Fire’s hit by David Foster, Jay Gradon and Bill Champlin.

Cuban singer Albita appears on the nostalgic ballad called “Como Hace Años,” written over a “danzón” rhythm.

Most of the music on the album are scorching danceable pieces, as well as an instrumental jazz piece titled “Aceite,” which is an homage to the musical interaction between Dizzy Gillespie and the great Cuban conguero Chano Pozo, which was a precursor of Latin Jazz.

Tiempo Libre’s current line-up include musical director Jorge Gómez on keyboard; Raúl Rodríguez on trumpet; Leandro González on congas; Tebelio (Tony) Fonte on bass; Armando (Pututi) Arce on drums; Joaquin (El Kid) Diaz on lead vocal; and Luis Beltrán Castillo on saxophone & flute.

My Secret Radio is an irresistible collection of fresh and vibrant Afro-Cuban timba inspired by American funk and jazz.

Buy the album or MP3 downloads:

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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