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Daymé Shares Santeria Rhythms and Samba Grooves

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Tuesday March 19, 2019

From ArtBurst Miami

SINGER DAYMÉ AROCENA TALKS NINA SIMONE, LA LUPE ON WAY TO GLOBAL CUBA FEST IN MIAMI BEACH
By: Fernando Gonzalez

In the music of Cuban singer and songwriter Daymé Arocena, Santeria rhythms brush against rumba and samba grooves. She has a rich, caramel-toned, contralto voice, powerful and expressive. From song to song, her phrasing may hint at filin, classic soul and R&B, or she may break into her own style of jazz scatting ‘” and yet the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

There is no accounting for her irrepressible, engaging personality or how she makes it all sound as her birthright. Arocena and her quartet are part of a promising double bill with Cuban singer and producer Cimafunk (aka Erick Alejandro Iglesias) as part of the ongoing Global Cuba Fest 2019. They will perform 8 p.m. March 30 at the North Beach Bandshell in Miami Beach.

Artburst recently spoke with Arocena from her home in Havana.

Santeria music and rumba at home, European classical music at school, how did you get involved with jazz?

The Amadeo Roldan Conservatory has a symphonic orchestra, a concert band and a big band. I was 15, and as a vocalist, I was assigned to the choirs. But the big band needed a singer, and they had heard about me so they asked me. I didn’t know anything about jazz big bands. The first two songs they wanted me to sing were ‘My Funny Valentine’ and ‘Bye, Bye Blackbird.’ They gave me the parts, I took them home and learned them like I’d learn classical pieces. That’s what I knew how to do. I had no reference about the music, I didn’t know about standards, or who sang these songs, or how they did them ‘” but I learned them. And suddenly, I found myself singing at jazz festivals, and I had no idea about what I was doing, so I asked the guys in the band to help me, and they got me first jazz records of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughan. Holiday had an incredible voice, and Ella was such a phenomenal improviser, but the one who killed me was Nina Simone.

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