Pays : Cuba Label : Brownswood Recordings Genres et styles : Groove / Jazz / Latin Pop Année : 2024

Daymé Arocena – Alkemi

· par Michel Labrecque

Daymé Arocena is an Afro-Cuban singer, protégée of the Franco-British Gilles Peterson, the BBC presenter and DJ, passionate about world music.

On her first three albums, she successfully blended traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms, salsa and acoustic jazz. With Alkemi, Daymé Arocena attempts a foray into the field of pop, which risks dividing her fans.

Let’s say it straight away: Alkemi is a success, in my humble opinion. For several years, Daymé Arocena had wanted to explore pop and make a record of love songs. Her exile from Cuba to Puerto Rico, after passing quickly through Toronto, provided her with the opportunity.

To do this, the great singer teamed up with Visitante, aka Eduardo Cabra, half of the rap-reggaeton group Calle 13, from Puerto Rico.

This results in a more pop album, but which in no way distorts the roots of Daymé Arocena. There are still brass instruments, Afro-Cuban percussion, and the powerful voice of the singer. But all this is accompanied by more soul-funk, and reggae sounds, with a hint of rap. A song is called “Coda” and it’s not insignificant. The Cuban singer admires the British Nigerian Sade Adu and her famous “Smooth Operator” (1984).

Visitante does an exemplary job as a producer here, adapting to the qualities of Daymé Arocena rather than imposing her own sounds. All this results in original, high-level Latin pop jazz. This may be considered too commercial by Afro-Cuban jazz purists. On the other hand, I am not convinced of the commercial potential of this proposal. We are very far from Shakira or Ricky Martin and even Sade. And that’s better for our ears.

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