Every music lover knows that Havana, Cuba, is a hotbed of creativity and innovative artistic energy. However, most associate that city and her musicians with the hard-hitting dance sounds of Latin jazz, timba, and even son. A native daughter of Havana, Haydée Milanes offers a different perspective for what those rich, fertile grounds can produce. An accomplished jazz pianist and vocalist, she is a product of the first-class conservatory education that Cuba offers its people. Her debut album, Haydée, creates a laid-back, intimate place to be shared with the listener, reminiscent of Sade. Her reserved, simmering vocal style and sparse piano playing make comparisons with Blue Note's favorite songstress unavoidable. Though the arrangements often have a rough edge to them, Haydée's tuneful, confident performance and cool demeanor will certainly put the listener in mind of Norah Jones. There are some instrumental gems to be appreciated below the still, glassy surface of this record. Produced under the direction of fellow Cuban innovator Descemer Bueno, Indian tablas or drum'n'bass samples, among other surprises, are woven flawlessly into the backdrop. With disparate influences handled sensitively, Haydée is more than a Latin songbird with a modern edge; she is a true world voice. Thanks to a genuinely fresh voice, interesting, intelligent production, and taste to spare, Haydée is easily the strongest debut of the year.
AllMusic Review by Evan C. Gutierrez