May 28, 2009

HEY, BACHARENA:

Bach With A Twist Of Afro-Cuban Jazz (All Things Considered, May 25, 2009)

Johann Sebastian Bach's music has been played on everything from banjos to marimbas. There's something so elemental and sturdy about his melodies — whether solo or intertwined with rigorous counterpoint — that makes the music hard to mess up, even when played on a singing saw.

The members of the Miami-based Cuban group Tiempo Libre don't play Bach with singing saws, but they do employ bongos, congas, saxophones and gourds — instruments of Afro-Cuban jazz. Their new CD, Bach in Havana, blends Bach melodies from pieces such as the Mass in B minor and the Well-Tempered Clavier with infectious Cuban rhythms including the cha-cha-cha, the son and the danzon.

It would be easy to write off Bach in Havana as just another cross-cultural, crossover gimmick, but the musicians of Tiempo Libre come by their blend honestly. In Cuba, they studied classical music at a venerable Havana music conservatory by day and played Latin jazz rumbas under the cover of night, as the Afro-Cuban style was forbidden at the school.


Posted by Orrin Judd at May 28, 2009 6:37 AM
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