What happens when a bunch of Cuban expatriate ENA (Escuela Nacional de Artes) graduates hanging around Miami have a little spare time between salsa gigs? In the case of Tiempo Libre (Spare Time), they formed the first and finest truly authentic timba group in the United States. No doubt missing the new and hip music of their generation after leaving the streets of Havana, the young musicians longed for a group that would scratch the itch for something more musically satisfying. And satisfying it is. In genuine timba style, Arroz con Mango (signifying something unusual or unexpected) features both salsa favorites done in a modern style and timba originals. Tiempo Libre are a small group by timba standards, partially because of the daunting financial prospect of launching a 15-piece orquesta, and partially because the musicians are good enough to do double duty, almost every instrumentalist also singing coro. With arrangements as complex and a band sound as swinging as any of their Havana counterparts, Tiempo Libre have quickly become one of the most respected Latin groups in the States.
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AllMusic Review by Evan C. Gutierrez