Release Date: 10 June 2016
Format: LP Vinyl
|Daymé Arocena Nueva Era Limited Vinyl LP
At just 22 years old, Daymé - a singer, arranger composer, and choir director is already a veteran presence in Cuban music, and is fast gaining international profile. She says she has sung all her life and recalls her four-year old self performing on every block in her neighbourhood. ‘Fun stuff,’ she says, ‘Wearing crazy dresses and singing like a rumbera (Rumberas are the street parties in Cuba where you hear its exploding Afro-Cuban rhythms and chants – sometimes in Yoruba). She has been performing semi-professionally since the age of 8, and became lead singer with the big band Los Primos at 14. She has performed with Winton Marsalis, and was invited by the Canadian saxophonist Jane Bunnet to perform in Canada.
Daymé first came to the attention of François Renié, Communications Director at Cuban rum maker Havana Club and founder of the Havana Cultura platform. He recalls “Gilles and I met Dayme for the first time on Gilles' first trip to Cuba, improvising a rumba session at a friends place. She started to sing and we were amazed. She was just a teenager". Considered to young to appear on the early Havana Cultura recordings, she nonetheless stayed on Gilles’ radar on his subsequent trips to Cuba. Gilles recalls “I was knocked out at her professionalism and people connection. She is so many things - a serious artist who knows exactly what she wants musically. I love her purity - she is deeply spiritual, and involved in her Santeria studies. She is also a total laugh! Yes, Daymé is the truth…”
Recorded in just a few days in London and Havana Daymé’s debut album is a work of elegant maturity, showcasing Daymé’s mix of influences. Her background as a choir director is in evidence on the wonderful layered vocals on tracks like Nueva Era, Niño and Madres. Madres also alludes to the Santeria chanting that have formed part of Daymé's worship since childhood. The lead single Don’t Unplug My Body shows off Daymé skill at writing an easy-on-the-ear pop tune, whilst there is humour in El Ruso (about her mother being forced to learn Russian in the Soviet supported Cuba of the 80s) and in the lament Dust (inspired by Daymé visit to Canada - she was horrified by the dust in the houses, compared to Cuba where everything is kept meticulously clean). A strong jazz influence is clear throughout the album - Daymé was advised by her teachers to explore beyond her classical latin music training and listen to more jazz: “I started to listen to all the old singers even when I didn’t like them,” she revealed: “I don’t want to sound like an old woman! The first jazz singer I really liked was Ella because she got me crazy when I listened to her scatting.” Beautiful ballads like Come to Me and Sin Empezar complete a confident and well balanced longer player. The switching between Spanish and English lyrics hinting at an ambition to reach a worldwide audience with her music. Apart from on the deep rumba of El Ruso - recorded in Cuba - Daymé is backed by a truly world class London band (Percussionist Oli Savill, Robert Mitchell on piano, and Neil Charles on bass). Production duties are split between Gilles Peterson, his longtime collaborator Simbad and Daymé herself.
3. Don't Unplug My Body
4. Sin Empezar
6. Come to Me
8. El Ruso
10. Nueva Era