Published Mar 08, 2017If 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. In between the dance numbers, Cubafonia makes clear that Arocena is already bigger than her chosen genre: Imagine Anita Baker in her prime, with a healthy dash of sazon completa. (Arocena idolized Whitney Houston as a child, but thankfully that influence is absent from this album.)
"Como" and "Angel" are two tracks that will strike some as over-polished — neither is aimed at the purist — but that's beside the point. If she chooses to make it her goal, Arocena will be an international star by her 30th birthday, either as one of the world's great Latin jazz stars or as a radio-friendly R&B singer. In the meantime, she's produced an inspired disc that never lets up. (Brownswood)