Timba, the half-century-old outgrowth of Cuban-bred son, is a complex form of danceable salsa that has evolved almost entirely independently of other South American styles. Timba requires such a high level of musicianship that it is frequently lamented it might die out owing to the ban on musicians touring from Cuba and the level of expertise and commitment required to perform these rhythms. Tiempo Libre is the real deal; several of these guys graduated from Cuba's Escuela Nacional del Arte and have done time on the world and Latin music circuits, including playing with the timba orchestra NG La Banda. They formed in 2001 and subsequently signed to Shanachie Records, also home to Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Alpha Blondy, and other world-music heavyweights. In 2006 their album Arroz con Mango was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Salsa/Merengue Album. To catch them at an intimate venue such as Miami Beach's Jazid is a treat that will most likely not be repeated soon.
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