One of the standout artists on the previous CD, The Soundclash, was the young jazz and soul singer Daymé Arocena. Now Gilles has produced ‘Nueva Era', her debut album, which showcases her enormous talents, both as a virtuoso vocalist as well as an eclectic and wide ranging songwriter. Blessed with a natural, powerful voice, Daymé grew up in Havana surrounded by music and graduated as a choir director. Following encouragement from her teachers, it wasn't long before she was mixing her love of classic jazz and soul with the spirituality of the Cuban Santería religion.
All of these currents are strong throughout this album, which features an amazing array of musical treats. From soulful Afro-Cuban songs such as ‘Madres' which pays homage to the goddess Yemaya, to funky jazz on ‘Don't Unplug My Body', via smoky ballads such as ‘Sin Empezar' and even upbeat son on ‘El Ruso', Dayme takes the listener on a journey through her musical passions. The various influences throughout the album are confidently held together by the beauty and range of Daymé's singing, and the – often deceptively complex – arrangements remind this listener of Yusa at her best.
Featuring a talented set of London based musicians, this album has something for all fans of Cuban music. Daymé manages to discover her own identity through that wonderfully Cuban mix of tradition and innovation, and whether you like to dance, swing or dream of hot nights in Havana, ‘Nueva Era' is a real gem.
This review appeared in CubaSi Summer 2015 magazine