Cuban singer Daymé Arocena has been charming audiences since she released her debut EP The Havana Cultura Sessions two years ago. Each of her projects since then, including her full-length album Nueva Era, has upped the ante on her soulful, booming sound. She’s been traveling the world while recording new music, and she just swooped back onto the scene to drop “Mambo Na’Má,” a single that gives us a preview of we can expect from her forthcoming album Cubafonía.
Inspired by New Orleans’ brass-heavy second line parades, “Mambo Na’Má” is a triumphant whirlwind of mambo and jazz arrangements built over a throbbing Afro-Cuban percussion beat. Arocena’s voice is all power in each explosive chorus, and in between she scats deftly enough to make Ella Fitzgerald proud. The song came together after Arocena traveled to New Orleans and saw the parallels between second line processions and the ‘50s jazz style of Cuban bandleader Pérez Prado.
“Mamba Na’Má” represents Arocena looking outward and drawing broader musical inspirations as Cuba considers a more global presence in the world. Still, even though Arocena is playing with new influences here, she never abandons the Cuban musical traditions that she’s championed throughout her career. Like she told us in an interview earlier this year, she’s eager for Cuba to be part of the world, and for the world to pay attention to Cuba.
We’re already counting down until Cubafonía comes out on March 10 to hear more of the sounds Arocena has encountered, and to learn how she’s incorporating them into her ever-impressive repertoire. Meanwhile, we’ll have “Mamba Na’Má” on repeat.