Audience members dance with Grammy-nominated Cuban music group Tiempo Libre at Shenzhen Concert Hall on April 14. Photos by Liu Xudong
The three-time Grammy-nominated Cuban music group Tiempo Libre, one of the hottest Latin bands today, graced Shenzhen Concert Hall on the evening of April 14. The group, with their contagious passion, turned a venue that is typically used for sitting through concerts into an ocean of joy and happiness with everyone standing up dancing and swinging around.
The band presented around 20 songs to the audience, beginning with “Kyrie.” The song is the personal favorite of Jorge Gómez, the pianist and music director of the zesty band.
“The ‘official’ favorite song is decided by the audience. For me, all the songs are my favorites. If I had to choose one, personally I would choose ‘Kyrie.’ It’s a song that is very deep in emotion. The music is incredible. The other songs are for dance and for improvising jazz,” said Gómez before the concert.
When the band started their second song, Xavier Mili, the group singer and the one who dances remeneo (rapid and continuous movements), began to encourage everyone to dance and swing with him.
Huang Kai (C) dances with his partner to the beat of the music at the concert.
Huang Kai, a Cuban salsa enthusiast, has been dancing for over 10 years now and dances weekly at the Civic Center on Sunday afternoons. That night, sitting in the first row of the concert hall right in front of the band, Huang couldn’t help moving his body to the rhythm of the music from the moment the concert began.
At first, Huang danced with his partner in the aisle below the stage. Later, invited to come on-stage by Tiempo Libre, they jumped onto the stage and danced passionately before the audience, lightening up the entire hall’s atmosphere.
Xavier Mili (L) and Huang Kai (R).
Encouraged by the band, bit by bit, the audience joined in on dancing and singing Spanish songs taught in the moment, turning the concert hall into a sizzling Latin party.
Lead singer Xavier Mili (L) and conga player Leandro Gonzales (R).
Audience member Zhang said that normally she has to sit through a concert for a whole night, which is not comfortable. “Tonight I got to dance and relax my body. I feel really good.”
Explaining how the band came to achieve such powerful synergy, Gómez explained: “The truth is that we knew each other back in Cuba. We studied together, some of us in different grades. Maybe I didn’t see him study at the same school, but I knew that he existed or he knew I existed. It’s a family.”
Pianist and music director Jorge Gómez (L) and Xavier Mili (R)
Gómez said that in the circle of music, basically every musician knows every other musician. “We studied together in Cuba for 15 years, for classical music such as Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin.” They then started their band at the end of 2001 in Miami, Florida, the United States.
“We weren’t very formal in the beginning, because everyone worked in different groups. In our free time, we gathered together and started to make the music. At the beginning, we called our group Free Time, but later we changed its name into Spanish, because the music that we play is in Spanish,” said Gómez.
Tiempo Libre is celebrated for its sophisticated tropical music featuring an irresistible, exhilarating mix of jazz harmonies, contemporary sonorities and seductive Latin rhythms.
The group consists of seven members, namely pianist and music director Jorge Gómez, singer and remeneo dancer Xavier Mili, bass player Wilber Rodríguez, saxophone player Luis Beltrán, percussionist Leandro Gonzales, drummer Israel Morales and trumpeter Roberto Consuegra.
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