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Tiempo Libre: Panamericano

Chris M. Slawecki By

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Tiempo Libre: Panamericano
Panamericano is more than the title of the fifth release from Afro-Cuban maestros Tiempo Libre (which loosely translates into "Free Time"); after more than a decade of blending and polishing musical styles from Latin, South, and North America, it's a great description of the smooth sound they've found.

Each tune seems to literally dance off the music written by pianist and co-founder Jorge Gómez, who composed or co-composed every song. Recorded music doesn't sound much more bright or hot than this opening "Quién Soy Yo." Fueled by piano and percussion, the powerful rhythm section never overwhelms the music but finds the perfect balance between melody and rhythm; the production allows all the lead voices—instrumental and human—to shine, while the ensemble horns layer in another level of complexity and wonder. It must feel so wonderful and liberating to share your voice in an ensemble playing music as joyous as this.

"Callejero" works in hip-hop drums, jazz trumpet, and a husky rap shout out, plus an ensemble vocal chorus tightly screwed into its surrounding instrumentation; "Gallo Fino" churns out straight-line Columbian cumbia, with Descember Bueno gruffly ripping through his guest vocal spot. "Yo Estoy Aquí" features vocalist Frankie "Half Pint" Jaxon and saxophonist Sergio Chaple in a very glossy, commercial-sounding ballad that could have easily been lent from the Gloria Estefan / Miami Sound Machine songbook.

Just a little more loose and funky, "Somebody to Love Me" and the subsequent "Dime Que No" hit Panamericano's highpoints. In the former, percussion and piano perfectly dovetail into the intersection of rhythm and melody, while an electric guitar hook claws at the rhythm and Yunel Cruz's guest vocal somehow brings even more passion out of Tiempo Libre's torrid, tropical sound. "Dime Que No" erupts from that song's closing with barely a pause, with Jean Rodríguez's guest vocal cutting into and jumping out of its crackling instrumental cauldron; Gómez's piano ties the arrangement together with strong, sinewy lines while the horn ensemble threatens to blow it completely apart!

After releasing their first two sets on Sony Masterworks, Panamericano is Tiempo Libre's first release for Universal Music Latin Entertainment, celebrated by the band (and their fans) with performances in Spain, China, London and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Track Listing

Quién Soy Yo; Callejero; Yo Estoy Aquí; Somebody to Love Me; Dime Que No; Rema; Monta Que Te Quedas; El Loco; Gallo Fino; Grandpa.

Personnel

Jorge Gomez: piano, musical director; Xavier Mili: lead vocals; Wilvi Rodriguez Guerra: bass; Luis Beltran Castillo: saxophone, flute; Leandro González: congas; Michel Ruiz Garcia: trumpet; Israel Morales Figueroa: drums; Luis Fernando Borjas: vocals; Armando Arce: drums; Yunel Cruz: vocals; Mr. Haka: rap; Descemer Bueno: vocals; Fabian Alvarez: flute; Armando Garcia: vocals; Jean Rodriguez: vocals; Michael Peraza: vocals, guitar.

Album information

Title: Panamericano | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Universal Latin Music

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