This article is part of AQ’s debut culture supplement, Cultura. To see the rest of the issue, click here
The 24-year-old Cuban singer Daymé Arocena has carved out a musical place for herself in the Afro-Cuban jazz world. Her voice is equally at home in ballads (“Niño,” a lilting lullaby, or “Come to Me,” whose harmonies harken back to Ella Fitzgerald’s late recordings in their chromatic, refreshing progressions and broad-stroke vocal phrasing) and in up-tempo songs (“El Ruso,” which opens with a generous trumpet solo by Yasek Manzano and features a vocal line reminiscent of classic salsa). She sings in English, Spanish and Yoruba, an expression of her flexibility of style and interpretation. The album’s focus is on ensemble sound not on Daymé as a soloist, making Nueva Era a powerful debut, and a fitting introduction to this versatile singer’s intensity and poise.
Cargo is assistant to the music director at Americas Society, and is also a flutist specializing in contemporary and improvisded music in New York.