If Cuban jazz phenom Daymé Arocena isn't on your radar, it's time for an upgrade. The 23-year-old diva is a commanding presence on her new LP, Cubafonia. Even surrounded by a crew of standout players, Arocena is the star of the show from start to finish.
The album will be warmly received by Latin jazz fans around the world. "Mambo Na Ma" and "Valentine" are fine examples of the tradition; yet there's more going on here than just a bright young talent and a hot band.
S till in her mid-20s, Daymé Arocena is Cuba's finest young female singer, a lady with a powerful, versatile style and enormous crossover potential. Her only problem until now is that her songwriting has not quite matched her remarkable voice, but her second solo album helps to put that right. Like Roberto Fonseca, who invited her to sing on his ABUC album, she has decided to stress her Cuban roots on a set that mixes dance rhythms with chanting reminders of the ceremonies of the Afro-Cuban Santeria faith, along with thrilling bursts of scat improvisation and pop melodies.
At the top of her brow, underneath her headwrap, Daymé Arocena wears a small feather. She'd received a message once from a saint telling her that it would guide her so that she'd never lose her way. As an initiate of santería, or Regla de Ocha, the Havana-born jazz singer is well in tune with both her religious and musical practices, which are inextricably tied.