The vital voices of contemporary Cuba are represented on this double bill pairing two of the island’s most exciting young artists.
A dazzling musician The New York Times called “a charismatic spark plug of a pianist from Cuba,” Roberto Fonseca made his debut at the Havana International Jazz Festival at age 15. A decade and several solo albums later, he joined the globe-trotting orchestra of Ibrahim Ferrer, the late, great sonero from the celebrated Buena Vista Social Club, and later contributed his peerless abilities to work with fellow Buena Vista member Omara Portuondo. A deft composer who draws on a wide range of musical traditions and genres, Fonseca recently released ABUC, his Impulse! debut that traces Cuban jazz history with an omnivorous slant, utilizing genres and influences from electronic dance music to big band with guests including Trombone Shorty and Eliades Ochoa.
With a voice possessed of equal parts grace and fire, Daymé Arocena has become one of the dynamic new faces of Cuban music, an artist versed in jazz, Cuban neo-soul, and West African traditions who has caused a huge stir on the global music scene. Brought to the world stage by Canadian saxophone great Jane Bunnett as part of her Juno-winning Maqueque project, the singer came to the attention of tastemaking British DJ Gilles Peterson, who produced the wildly successful Havana Cultura The Soundclash!compilation featuring Arocena and other rising Cuban artists. Peterson subsequently signed Arocena to his Brownswood label, which released her 2015 debut Nueva Era, an album listed among NPR Music’s Top 50 albums of the year. Her 2017 follow-up, Cubafonía, has recently been released.