Havana Cultura Sessions: Daymé Arocena (2014)
Album series curated by Gilles Peterson

Recorded in just a few days in London and Havana, The Havana Cultura Sessions EP is a great introduction to Daymé’s broad ranging musical talent. Drama showcases her trademark mix of jazz and Latin styles. El Ruso is what Dayme calls ‘a funny song.’  Its story covers her mother’s enforced study of Russian during the heyday of Cuba’s relationship with the Soviets. “Life never says it; does truth tell a lie?” she sings. 

On Sin Empezar Daymé glows with the range and use of tones in a superb song. Mellow and slow, its moving and stunning inclusion of the trumpet playing slowly with elongated notes. The sharp and crisp drumming and the piano’s impressively subtle phrases all work in harmony with the chorus and Dayme’s unusually delicate voice in response to some lyrics. A deep rumba re-imagining of the American torch song Cry Me a River completes the package.