We will never know if Bach would have picked up a conga drum had he been around nowadays, but we can be pretty certain that given his penchant for experimentation, the famous German composer would probably have dabbled in a little bit of Latin fusion. And just to prove this point Tiempo Libre has released an excellent record where they have mixed Bach's timeless tunes with a powerhouse Cuban sound.
What at first might look like an odd pairing soon becomes a seductive offer from a band that has been twice nominated for the Grammy. 'Bach in Havana' is an electrifying 11-track album that travels the musical diapason of that Caribbean island.
'Tu Conga Bach', the first song of the record and based on the Fugue for C Minor, starts with the brass section ushering in an array of instruments such as: percussion, bass, drums and cowbells. Maybe if Scheibe had heard this he would never have famously accused Bach of removing the beauty of harmony.
The Sonata in D Minor is reworked as a tasty cha-cha-cha. Then, on the third track, Air on a G String, the first guest appears and he is none other than Mr Paquito D'Rivera, saxophonist par excellence. He provides an exquisite solo sax that would not have been out of place in 18th century Germany.
The overall production and arrangements are exquisite and the group clearly has a great deal of appreciation for Johann's music. 'Olas de Yemaya' (Yemaya's Waves), based on the Prelude in C Major from the Well-Tempered Clavier book, sounds like a mournful lament blending the bata drums with the piano.
Tiempo Libre's latest offering represents not just the new generation in Cuban music: risk-taking, irreverent and experimental, but also they symbolise the endurance of classical music throughout the centuries and the ways in which it can be reinterpreted for contemporary audiences.
Next Post: 'Song for a Summer Sunday Morning' to be published on Sunday 12th July at 10am (GMT)