October 2001

Gal in Caymmi's Court

Framing every performance with unequaled expertise,
Dori Caymmi guarantees a tour of creative
virtuosity and stimulating compatibility.

Bruce Gilman

In any kind of art, the combination of great talents seldom guarantees brilliant results. There are two artists, however, who are on a first-name basis with audiences the world over, who share an extraordinary repertoire and musical legacy, and whose collaborative efforts in Los Angeles on Saturday, October 6, will be among the most felicitous in Brazilian popular music. When Brazilian Nites Productions brings to the Greek Theater the crystalline voice and intense musicality of Gal Costa, cushioned in engaging arrangements by Dori Caymmi, concertgoers will bask in a collective show of immense cohesion and vitality, the kind that can only happen when the chemistry is exactly right.

Of all the superb young singers to come along in the sixties in the wake of Elis Regina, mezzo-soprano Gal Costa is the most impressive. To hear that Gal Costa is one of the greatest interpreters of Brazilian popular song, a diva of Brazilian popular music, is news to no one. She has a miraculous ear and the technique and instinct to follow wherever it leads. Strongly influenced by João Gilberto, Gal began her career as a bossa nova singer, but fully emerged as the "Muse of Tropicalismo."

From her goddess-like combination of authority and abandon to her talent for making lyrics lucid and alive, Gal envelops listeners in her powerfully seductive wake, leaving them breathless. Although there have been times when energetic excess or the desire to surprise has led her into musical as well as political cul-de-sacs, over dramatic and seemingly oblivious to the overall context, she is the perfect foil to the man who directed her first album, Dori Caymmi.1 Quite remarkably, any contradictions transform into synergies.

Few Brazilian musicians have traversed the past four decades accumulating a list of fine credits as vast, and yet remaining as inconspicuous as arranger, composer, guitar player, and singer Dori Caymmi.2 Beginning his professional career when he was sixteen years old as the piano accompanist for his sister, singer Nana Caymmi, Dori moved effortlessly into composing soundtracks for television and producing albums (Edu Lobo, Eumir Deodato, and Nara Leão) for the Philips label.

In the mid-sixties he was the musical director for the controversial theater pieces Opinião and Arena Canta Zumbi as well as the guitarist and arranger for Francis Hime at the famous Bottles Bar in Copacabana. In partnership with Nelson Motta, he composed a number of hits ("Saveiros," "Cantiga," and "O Cantador") that have been interpreted by, among others, Luiz Gonzaga, Hermeto Pascoal, Elis Regina, Sérgio Mendes, and Carmen McRae.

Dori toured the United States and Canada with Paul Winter's group as both guitarist and arranger, but his almost exclusive concentration on writing and arranging scores for film and television brought him to Los Angeles in the eighties, where his distinctive guitar style and creative harmonies have been captured for the Elektra/Musician, Qwest, and Atração record labels and garnered a slew of Grammy nominations.

Singers undergo subtle changes in accordance with their musical settings and face their greatest challenges and sometimes perform at their highest level, not in the company of large groups, but rather with small ones, where they cannot hide and where vocal shortcomings are immediately noticed. Creating a musical context by uniting a small North American band with a vocalist who normally lives in the opposite hemisphere and expecting a great blend of talent to emerge from their creative interplay can be a somewhat risky strategy. The odds, however, are considerably reduced when the vocalist in question is the superb Gal Costa and the "frame of reference," is created by the wonderfully clear-sighted and self-controlled Grammy-nominated arranger and composer Dori Caymmi.

I spoke with Dori Caymmi about politics, music history, and his new CD, Influências.

Brazzil—Dori, what, aside from harmony, did Moacir Santos teach you?

Dori—Oh, Moacir is one of my heroes. He taught me how to live. I was only fifteen and had been studying with one of his teachers, a very formal and difficult person named Paulo Silva, with whom I could never connect. Finally he told me, "You're too hard to teach. I'm sending you to an assistant." Thank God that was Moacir. Miraculously everything became so easy. Moacir was the professor who took me to the professional level. You know, Moacir is from a very small city in the Northeast of Brazil, one of those cities in the middle of nowhere where there is just one unpaved street with houses on both sides, and that's it. The Northeast is bare; the vegetation, unfriendly. It's a place that makes you ask, "My God! How can anybody live here?" People struggle, and they're happy if they have enough water. But at the same time, there is something very poetic that makes their music very special.

Brazzil—When Elba Ramalho was in town, she stopped her show, stepped down off the stage, and thanked Moacir for coming. Is that reverence for Moacir common among Brazilian musicians?

Dori—Yes, we Brazilians have a passion for him. And you know, I'm uncomfortable mentioning this, but to be black anywhere is a dilemma, and in Brazil, it's no different. It's so difficult, but Moacir is a saint. There is something in his smile, his gentleness, his wisdom. Mário Adnet and Zé Nogueira just recorded an outstanding double album of Moacir's originals called Ouro Negro (Black Gold). One of these days, I'm going to record an album that mixes our ideas, Moacir's and mine. I don't want to sound pretentious, but I want to do more than just play his originals. I want to add some pepper. I'll find a way. That's my thing.

Brazzil—One of your earliest professional experiences was with Grupo dos Sete. Can you tell me a little about the group?

Dori—That was a prestigious theater group of seven actors, some of whom are still alive and very, very influential, like Fernanda Montenegro. Both she and her husband were in Grupo dos Sete. We performed live TV specials based on Brazilian literature because Brazilian television didn't have video tape at that time. We had to work fast, carrying microphones and instruments to each studio. Two percussionists, a flute player, and myself on guitar rushed from studio to studio performing a kind of live Jorge Amado theater for television. It was very exciting work for us.

Brazzil—What was the cultural significance of the theater pieces Opinião and Arena Conta Zumbi?

Dori—Well, as you know, we had the military government at that time. It was just beginning, which, for the students, the journalists, and the artists, meant opposition. But there was something more than that. There was something artistically more, but hidden because we had to be careful. The military was arresting and torturing people, so the best songwriters were cleverly camouflaging their lyrics so they wouldn't sound the least bit unpleasant. You have no idea how many times Chico Buarque was taken from his house at one in the morning and interrogated.

Everything loses perspective when you have an iron hand gripping the country, and friends are being tortured and dying all around you. Those son-of-guns killed a friend of mine, a fantastic man, a great piano player. The entire climate was like a revolution, but ironically, a very creative one because of this same oppression. It was the moment my generation started to grow.

Opinião was a collection of music written and performed by the great sambista Zé Keti , a Northeastern composer named João do Vale, and a singer from Rio de Janeiro society named Nara Leão. I was the musical director, and I was learning a lot. There's a song from Opinião (sings), "Podem me prender / Podem me bater / Podem até deixar-me sem comer / Que eu não mudo de opinião," written by Zé Keti. This song asserts the main idea that Oduvaldo Viana Filho, the play's author, had in mind: "You can arrest me / You can beat me up / You can even starve me / But I won't change my opinion."

Arena Conta Zumbi has to be the most fascinating story about the African slaves who ran away from Brazil's towns and plantations, created the fortress city of Palmares, and fought the Portuguese for more than a hundred years. It was written by Guarnieri, Gianfrancesco Guarnieri, an actor from São Paulo. And the music, the gorgeous music, was by Edu Lobo. He was so young at the time. I couldn't believe a man so young could compose so many beautiful songs for one theater piece.

The director's idea was to establish "between the lines" a very defiant statement toward the military. The censorship was so aggressive, we had to use subterfuge in a very refined way. Arena Conta Zumbi is the story of what the Portuguese did do the slaves, but is in reality, the story of what the military was doing to us, the students and the artists in Brazil. It's about politics, revolution, and the military, and is, in my opinion, the most ambitious piece of musical theater to come out of Brazil.

Brazzil—You were seventeen years old when Jobim called you for a studio session. How did the veteran players receive you?

Dori—It was beautiful because an American couple was producing a movie about Rio de Janeiro, like a documentary or something, and they asked Jobim to write the score. And I just couldn't believe that Jobim called me to play. It was my first time in the studio, and I was going to be playing with pros like Milton Banana and Edison Machado and Paulo Moura. We recorded "Só Tinha de Ser com Você" (It Had to Be With You). I was so young, so inexperienced, and those older guys kept telling me, "Good, man! That's really good." It was fantastic. I'd played on TV with Nana, but to record with Jobim and all those guys…that was magic.

Brazzil—Your musical foundation was molded by Jobim and João Gilberto, so I'm wondering what your feelings were at that time about the growing presence and popularity of American jazz?

Dori—The main problem for me was that when we first had this jazz thing in Brazil, I was completely in awe of João Gilberto's looseness and intimacy with Brazilian rhythms. I'd be listening to him playing and suddenly he'd say to Astrud, his fiancée at the time, "Astrud, sing something for me." And she would start singing "But Not For Me" because the Chet Baker Sings album was very, very well known among musicians. And then suddenly, Astrud was singing professionally, and people stopped talking about Jobim and Gilberto and started talking about Stan Getz and Astrud. I was pissed off!

I'm sorry, but those guys were my heroes. I had a terrible argument with Jobim about that. Actually, for a while, the newspapers were attacking him for being too American. Oh, yeah, they called him "The American." And that wasn't the first time they had done something like that. They also did it to Carmen Miranda. But Jobim overcame the problem when he wrote "Águas de Março" (Waters of March). Oh, man, did they regret it. Because Jobim, man, you don't touch Jobim with naked hands.

Brazzil—What ever happened to the arrangement you started for Jobim's Matita Perê album?

Dori—I started the arrangements, but because Jobim was disappointed with the situation in Brazil, he took the arrangements to Claus Ogerman in the United States.

Brazzil—Do you like what Ogerman did with the material?

Dori—The things Claus did stylistically, which I love, were basically what we had already done in Brazil. Jobim was so complete harmonically, so prepared, that you can listen to songs like "Saudade do Brasil" and hear the orchestra doubling exactly all the voicings he's playing at the piano. The orchestration is complete. That's why Claus used him as an instrumentalist. The album was released just before Urubu, both in Brazil and the United States, and marked the beginning of the kind of music that made the press in Brazil take their hats off and recognize they had a maestro in their midst to whom they had not been paying the proper respect.

I miss Jobim a lot. Sometimes when I'm sitting in my little garden, I think about the musician, the man, that incredible person who died so early. I'm not the kind of guy who says, "Well, that's how life goes." I'm still pissed off that he's gone. He was too young. And now with the deteriorating quality of music that we have all around us, we especially need him. Brazil needs him. He was the person we could go to and show our work. We had to show him.

Brazzil—In what ways do you feel the music scene today is different from the days of bossa nova?

Dori—I'm an old man right now. I'm fifty-eight. Forty-one years of music has made me an old man, so I'll probably sound a little gruff, but the thing is, this "globalization" of music is really stupid. Everybody's rapping, everybody's funking, everybody's Mariah Carey, every new singer has to be naked on the album cover, and this impression of music is burned into the minds of the kids. They're poisoned, and there's nothing we can do about it. Music videos hide bad music.

Bebel Gilberto is doing this new kind of bossa nova, but it's predictable. It's something with no tricks and no heart. Bebel and the other young kids in Brazil think that they're singing bossa nova. Some of them call it "acid-bossa" or "acid-jazz." I'm not a big fan of that, you know. The quality is gone. The other day, a journalist called from Brazil and asked me, "Now that Jorge (Amado) is gone, who is going to take his place? And who will take your father's place when he's gone? Who's next?" You know what? We probably have great talents, people who will follow in their footsteps, but right now they're hidden by the system. Brazil's new generation is hidden in small cities all over Brazil. They're there.

Brazzil—Caetano Veloso acknowledged you as the most influential Brazilian guitar player after João Gilberto. Would you comment on this?

Dori—Yeah, I don't know. There are so many good guitar players. Maybe his statement is based on our musical youth together. I used to travel a lot to Bahia to see my grandparents and my aunts, and I remember meeting Caetano in Bahia when we were like nineteen or twenty years old. I was already a guitar player. Well, not a guitar player. I was a chord player, a rhythm guitar player, you know? I had, and still have a special dedication, a special love for Brazilian rhythms, especially all the knowledge that came from Baden (Powell) and João (Gilberto). I'm glad that he feels that way about me.

Brazzil—How did you feel when you first heard the Tropicalista music of Gil and Caetano.

Dori—I had a terrible reaction. Terrible! I was so strongly against Tropicália at the time, that I refused to work with Caetano, to collaborate with him on his albums. I couldn't hear or share that music with them. For me, it was a commercially oriented movement that didn't fit with my own ideas about music.

Brazzil—Speaking of your own ideas and of João, can you talk a little about the arrangement you wrote for João and Rita Lee for the show Grandes Nomes?

Dori—Well, actually, it was not my arrangement that they performed. I wrote something for João, but he changed his mind so many times that I got mad, threw the arrangement in his lap and walked out. I told him that I never wanted to work with him again. I think they used my basic outline, but not the way it was intended. Man, did we have a serious falling out. After working with him for two daysand believe me, he is not a very easy person to work withI went to the studio with the arrangement under my arm, and in front of all the studio musicians, you know, the entire string section, he says, "You know what? I changed the chords." So I said, "You know what? I quit. Don't bother paying me. Nothing you could pay me would be worth this nonsense. I'm outta here." Oh, man, I wanted to kill the guy. I think Guto Graça Mello took the arrangement. Maybe I had a bad attitude, maybe I was too impatient, but I'm still not prepared for that kind of craziness. That isn't normal.

Brazzil—Have you noticed how many fabulous North American singers have recorded "O Cantador" (Like a Lover)?

Dori—Yeah! There are so many wonderful artists who have done this song, so many people. I'm very pleased with all their versions. I remember Sarah (Vaughan) saying, "Oh, I think this version is much better than Carmen's." And I had to say, "Oh, yeah," which was funny because Carmen (McRae) was also a dear friend and asked me, "Who truly recorded the best version of the song?" Both women were marvelous.

Brazzil—Did you record it with Sarah before doing her Brazilian Romance album?

Dori—Yes, we recorded "O Cantador" together in Brazil, just guitar and voice before that album. She actually recorded two albums in Brazil before Brazilian Romance. It was so good, so meaningful for me to work with Sarah Vaughan. Sarah is one of my heroes. I still think to myself, "Ah, my God, I worked with Sarah Vaughan!"

Brazzil—You contributed five compositions to Brazilian Romance, which was nominated for a Grammy, and you arranged the album. Do you feel it has the same balance, composure, and natural flow normally associated with Sarah Vaughan's recordings?

Dori—We shouldn't be talking about these things, but there was a basic mistake with the production of Brazilian Romance. I don't want to mention names, but the producers were all thinking pop while I was thinking jazz. Recording in the pop vein was shortsighted, a real disservice. The approach for a first class vocalist like Sarah Vaughan is nothing less than…Sarah Vaughan. Anyway, there was this misconception, which made her very difficult to work with, and to further complicate things, she was making this album for CBS without permission from Quincy (Jones), who held her contract at Qwest Records. There were many, many hassles, but there are great moments, especially the song "So Many Stars."

Brazzil—Which other American vocalists you would like to work with?

Dori—I'd love to work with Shirley Horn. I really love the work she did with Johnny Mandel. When I was at the Grammy nominations in New York and Johnny saw me, he shoved his cassette player into my hands and said, "Dori, you have to hear this."3 Man, I couldn't believe how fabulous this woman sounded. They recorded a second album together last year, which I played guitar on, but their first one is from 1992. Please, if you have a chance, buy this album. It's so beautiful. When she sang the title track at the Hollywood Bowl, oh, my God! No one in the audience was breathing.

Brazzil—Tell me a little about your Grammy nominations.

Dori—My first nomination was in the World Music category for Brasilian Serenata. Then Kicking Cans received the nomination for Best Jazz Solo, but that was Herbie Hancock's contribution. The concept is mine, as is the arrangement, but Herbie, man, his soloing is so beautiful that he really deserves it. For Cinema, I received nominations in the Arranging and Composition fields, and in terms of competing with the top guns, that was the most impressive nomination. This is the category where you find incredible arrangers like Don Sebesky and John Williams. Don't tell anybody, but I didn't belong there because, although I did something creative with my arrangement of Mancini's "Pink Panther," and Mancini is one of my heroes, it's not really an orchestral arrangement. It's a small group arrangement.

Brazzil—I've heard Cinema, and Tom Scott, as always, sounds fantastic.

Dori—I love that guy. Tom Scott was so generous. He played four saxophones and charged only for one. You know, our budget was gone. "Listen," he said, "I love the way you write. I'll do it." He gave me his time and his musicality. It's difficult to find a man like that who is so intense, yet so gentle. Anyway, those are my nominations, and although the Academy should create a separate category for small group arrangements, that last nomination was an honor that no one can take away from me.

Brazzil—Have any of Hollywood's "top guns" sent work your way?

Dori—The other day Johnny (Mandel) invited me to write an arrangement for guitar and strings, and I was a little scared because Johnny has always been one of my inspirations. But he told me, "Man, we're on the same wavelength." He lied to me. I know what I'm capable of technically. But I work from the heart and so does Johnny.

Brazzil—Has Gil Evans had any influence on your arranging style?

Dori—Gil Evans is my God! You know, my wife and I were listening to the radio today and heard Miles playing Gil's arrangement of the Concerto de Aranjuez. I'm sad to say that Joaquin Rodrigo hated their version of his work because there is something so beautifully full in Gil's arrangement. Years ago Gil and I took a picture together; it's still hanging on my wall.

Brazzil—On your new CD, Influências, you've shared the vocal spotlight with many guest vocalists. Why?

Dori—This CD is very special. It's a rediscovery of everything Brazil did for me, everything that inspired me from the time I was four years old until I was fourteen. That's the concept, so I had to invite my favorite singers. Unfortunately, Elis (Regina) is not here any more and I miss her. But Bethânia, Gal, and Nana are, and I was lucky enough to know how to use each one of them. I thought, "Nana will be great here, Gal can do something beautiful here, and Bethânia can kill here." And on "Serenata do Adeus," with the beautiful melody and lyrics that Vinícius (de Moraes) wrote, she did. That's a gorgeous song, but, you know, harmonically, Vinícius was not that good. You can hear Jobim's touch. Once you add Jobim's magical chords, that's it. Overall, I'm very happy with the CD, but it was pure luck. I'm really not that good. (laughs) Seriously.

Brazzil—What's Jorge Amado's connection with the tune "É Doce Morrer no Mar"?

Dori—The fountain of inspiration for this tune was a book written by Jorge Amado in the forties called Mar Morto (Dead Sea). Later, Jorge asked my father to write some music for a poem from this book called "É Doce Morrer no Mar" (It's Sweet to Die in the Ocean). Actually, last year or the beginning of this year, like they always have with Jorge Amado's works, like they did with Gabriela, TV Globo in Brazil created a soap opera called Mar Morto that is based on the same book. When I was in Brazil a guy from TV Globo called me and asked if I would write a string arrangement for "É Doce Morrer no Mar." At the time, I was also arranging for my sister, Nana, so I had to write quickly, but now every time a fisherman on the show dies, you hear this song. Globo asked me afterward if I would include it on Influências.

Even though I already had fourteen songs, the string arrangement, which is the only one on the CD that was recorded in Brazil with Brazilian string players, came out so beautifully that I omitted a tune we had already recorded and substituted "É Doce Morrer no Mar." This is a song I remember hearing my father sing when I was four years old. As you know, Jorge recently passed away, just days before turning eighty-nine. My father was eighty-seven in April, and they had been best friends since 1939 or 1940.

Jorge was like my uncle. I feel sad, yet at the same time relieved because he was suffering and wasn't recognizing people any more. He wasn't the Jorge Amado, that very sweet person with the vibrant personality, who I first met. Paulo César Pinheiro, my lyricist, says that Jorge Amado taught Brazilians how to read. This is the finest epitaph anyone could have made for Jorge Amado. Brazilians didn't have this thing about reading, but I think his books gave this to us. I grew up with his books.

Brazzil—You and Elis Regina were in the same musical orbit. Why didn't you ever record together?

Dori—Just before her death, we were talking about this. Elis was saying, "We've been friends for so long and have never worked together. On my next album, I want the strings of Dori Caymmi." We missed our chance. After she died, her brother took some of her live tapes, isolated the instrumental and vocal tracks, then asked me and Wagner Tiso and a few other arrangers to score some fresh arrangements, which he situated behind her voice. In a strange way we finally made a recording together.

Brazzil—With the exception of the vocal parts and the strings on "É Doce Morrer no Mar," Influências, was completely recorded, mixed, and mastered in Los Angeles, as was Cinema: A Romantic Vision. Why?

Dori—I like it here. I think the best studios and the most disciplined and responsive technicians are here. It's so good for me to work here, far from Brazil where I don't have anybody giving me advice and telling me what is or isn't good. I miss so many things about Brazil, but at the same time my ideas are not being diluted. It's nice to be here in my little house in Woodland Hills looking at Brazil through binoculars. The distance gives me a better perspective, albeit a sad one. I miss the Brazil that they promised me. I miss that.

Brazzil—Do you also find North American instrumentalists more disciplined and responsive to your intentions?

Dori—Technically, my first concern is the studio and its engineers, but over and above that, I live here and budgets are never that good. We aren't talking about spending five hundred thousand or a million dollars on an album. When you start paying for airline tickets and hotels, it gets rough, so I use the guys here. Maybe it's because I'm not familiar with the new generation of Brazilian musicians or what's new, but I'm learning more about them, and maybe we can make it up to them. Anyway, the Brazilian flavor that I need comes, basically, from Paulinho da Costa and my guitar.

And I have a great drummer, Mike Shapiro, who learned from Airto (Moreira) and played with Sérgio (Mendes) before working with me, so he's digested three different styles from the same generation of musicians. The bass players I like, guys like Jimmy Johnson, Abraham Laboriel, Jerry Watts, and John Leftwich are all here too. And you're right, there is a question of discipline. Those guys have known how to play my music for years, and it's difficult to establish that same telepathic looseness with new guys.

This is especially true for the pianists I love, like Herbie Hancock, Dave Grusin, and Billy Childs. I hope my Brazilian friends won't get mad, but I don't think the piano is a very Brazilian instrument, at least in terms of the music I make. There is something about the American jazz culture and the American pianist that really attracts me. Besides, there really aren't that many Brazilian musicians around. Teco (Cardoso) is always around because he travels a lot, and he's also a lover of Moacir's music. And I've been thinking about Airto, who lives here. There is something about Airto that I like very much. Maybe we can work out my Moacir ideas together.

Romero Lubambo, an outstanding guitar player, is also in the States. I heard him with Dianne Reeves the other night at the Hollywood Bowl. Oh, my God! He's probably the biggest surprise I've had in terms of guitar players. So it's not a question of segregating American and Brazilian musicians at all. I play with Brazilian bands when I'm in Brazil, but because of the distance and the expense, it's very difficult to bring up some of the musicians I've wanted to work with in the past. Oh, there are so many good guys. I'd love to bring up a great guitar player like Hélio Delmiro.

Brazzil—Dori, what's next?

Dori—Right now I'm very, very into this new album, but I'm thinking my next will be the music of my contemporaries, each song written by a composer from my generation: Edu Lobo, Caetano, (Gilberto) Gil, Ivan Lins, Geraldo Azevedo, Joyce, Sueli Costa. My generation was Brazil's third richest, and in terms of composers, it's absolutely unbeatable. Those composers who I've just recorded are the fathers of Brazilian music. Noel Rosa, Ary Barroso, Dorival Caymmi, and Jacó do Bandolim, they're the great beginning.

And the next generation with Jobim, Dolores Duran, and João Gilberto, especially João's approach with rhythm, was the trick. Unfortunately, the way that the world outside Brazil learned that rhythm and the secrets of João's guitar was through a filter that sterilized its swing, but that's the bossa nova that everybody knows today. When I first heard Getz/Gilberto, the album that the world considers the "classic" bossa nova album, with "The Girl From Ipanema," I was furious.

Brazzil—Tell me more.

DoriBossa nova was transformed into something completely different from our original samba feeling and João's approach. A long time ago, Miles talked about the magic of João Gilberto and how difficult it was for guys like Charlie Byrd and Herbie Mann and Stan Getz to master this language because it came from our Brazilian roots. The other day I heard something, and I hope Dizzy (Gillespie) will forgive me, but I heard his version of "Desafinado," and I was horrified.

Maybe I'm too Brazilian, but the way the bass player and the drummer… ahhh! Everything sounded awkward and removed from our roots. But it works both ways. Jazz is something that a lot of people play, but very few really grasp, like Miles, Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Red Garland, those monsters who we're still learning from, especially we Brazilians. We love jazz, but, you know what? I can't play jazz. I don't know how.

Brazzil—Well you certainly arrange and compose with jazz harmonies.

Dori—Well, that's something that comes from those same African and European roots. The same mix that gave us jazz, gave us the samba. There's is an incredible rapport within these forms of music. That mix, for me, is the best of the best. It not only gave us Cuban and Puerto Rican music but also that fantastic swing from the Caribbean islands that people call salsa. And when it came to Brazil, it took on the flavor of the samba. My father's generation and even the one before learned these traditions.

Brazzil—Dori, I know that good acoustics and audience contact is important to you, so I'm wondering how you feel about some of the venues you'll be playing on this tour.

Dori—Actually, I learned a lot about the intimacy you can have with 15,000 people the last time I went to the (Hollywood) Bowl and heard Shirley Horn and Dianne Reeves. Man, it is possible! And the show I just did in the Northeast with my brother for 25,000 people, was terrific. Everyone was singing together, dancing, and having fun. Every one of my father's songs, every one of Jobim's, and every song of mine was good for them. They were prepared, and it was a great tour.

Sometimes, when the audience is fantastic, you can do it. But the thing is, you have to be very concentrated when the distance from the stage to the last row is so vast. You know, the first time I went to the Bowl, I was shocked by that distance. But there are some artists who can do it. They compress the void and connect with their audience. Gal is going to be very comfortable. She always performs for large audiences and knows how. My God, she knows how to do it. She's so good. Oh, yeah! She's unbelievable.

Brazzil—Have your musical styles and preferences helped in choosing the repertoire?

Dori—Gal and I have the same heroes, and our opinions about the way to sing are exactly the same as João Gilberto's. We have the same approach. Although life has taken Gal to different stages, like Tropicália, we've performed some excellent shows together, like the one with Jobim at Carnegie Hall. On this tour Gal is going to do some things from her new album, like "Sophisticated Lady" in Portuguese as well as some Jobim. She also wants to sing a tune called "Spring" from my Kicking Cans CD and the first song from my new album, "Conversa de Botequim." And, of course, there will be some of Gal's hits like "Baby," though I'm going to change this pop stuff a little (laughs) to be more Dori oriented. I'll be changing the harmonies, and my band will play different arrangements. For us there's no "glitz." We want the audience to hear the music. Don't say anything.

Brazzil—João Gilberto is notorious for not showing up for concerts, and I'm wondering why you didn't show at the last Ojai Festival where you were scheduled to perform with Oscar Castro-Neves.

Dori—I completely forgot. I was working on arrangements in Brazil, Tommy LiPuma was calling me long distance from the States to cut something for Diana Krall, and my life was miserable from juggling so many commitments at the same time. I called the Ojai people from Brazil and apologized, and I called Oscar. It was embarrassing. I love Oscar. I felt so uncomfortable. He's an old friend. My wife says it was her fault because she books me, but it wasn't. How we could forget Oscar. We're so close. But I'll be there for the next one.

Brazzil—Dori, my next questions were going to be about Bahia, but maybe we'll skip them.

Dori—No, it's not a problem. I don't like the music they're making in Bahia now, so if you want to ask me, ask me.

Brazzil—Well, generally, Bahia is seen as kind of laid-back place where increasing tourism is impacting the lives of visitors and residents alike. Would you comment on this?

Dori—Yeah, it's something that bothers me a lot. All that "progress" in communications and universalization and globalizationwhateverhas been bad for Bahia. Bahia has lost its essence, all its poetry. It's gone. They have built so much and there are so many tourists. The beaches are treated miserably. They're only thinking progress, and unfortunately, pollution and progress go hand in hand. Brazilians get mad when I mention this, but Ivan Lins and I were in Salvador with our families, and we were swimming in front of our hotel.

There's a little tram that takes you about 200 or 300 yards down from the top of the hotel to a little dock where you can jump into the ocean. But I noticed something happening to the water and started shouting, "Get out of the water. Now!" You're not going to believe this, but it's true. One of the hotels was flushing all its sewage into the ocean, and that beautiful blue was turning brown. It was disgusting, and I was outraged. I love plants and animals, but sometimes I hate people.

That was when I became convinced that people are destroying the planet. It's not only Bahia, it's Rio. Rio used to be my city. I was born in Rio. I grew up in Rio de Janeiro. Geographically, there is no city in the world that you can compare to Rio. It's like God put out his finger and said, "That's it!" But the things that they're doing with the city…There's no space. There's no security. And the tourism and the drugs…Ahhh! It's terrible.

Brazzil—How do you feel about Antônio Carlos Magalhães being referred to as the "Caymmi of Evil"?4

Dori—I don't think Magalhães deserves the name Caymmi, not even if it's borrowed. He personifies the progress that I was talking about. Progress without sense, with no respect. He's a man with a black vision who wants to control everything and have his name inscribed everywhere. He's a dictator, a very dangerous person. My father once told Antônio Carlos that he felt more Carioca (native of Rio) than Baiano (native of Bahia) because he'd been living in Rio since 1938 and all his kids were born there and two still live in Rio. Antônio Carlos got so pissed off that he started attacking my father in the media saying, "Oh, there's is something about `Baianidade' (Baianness). Once Baiano, always Baiano. Forever!" But he's a politician, who has to have the last word, a miserable guy with nothing but ambition.

Sure, he has some friendsJorge Amado was his friendbut many people hate him. Don't get me wrong, Magalhães has done some good stuff, like Napoleon did some good stuff for France. I don't have much more to say unless it's, "Arrest him!" (laughs) Magalhães is a rotten guy. There's a lot of corruption related to men like him in Brazil. Politicians are all over the world, and I hate them all. The word "politics" is something that has never made any sense in my life.

Brazzil—It's been said that your father is to Brazilian popular music what Bach is to the music of the world. What's the most valuable lesson you learned from Dorival Caymmi?

Dori—Oh, there are so many, so many. Just being his son and seeing him create this difficult music and beautiful poetry was a valuable lesson. When others were taking the line of least resistance, he was playing really intense pieces of music like "O Mar" (The Ocean) and putting on his suit with a lot of dignity and taking his guitar to sing at night so he could support a wife and three kids. He taught me to persevere. He told me, "Don't play commercial music unless you absolutely have to." This was something he modeled. I learned that no price can buy dignity.

He taught me that integrity is what buys respect, and that was confirmed again and again. Writers, painters, composers, poets, and important intellectuals came to collaborate with him and seek his approval or just to shake his hand. A lot of people tried to buy him, saying stuff like, "Oh, I love your work. I want you to have this new car." But he would tell them, "Oh, thank you very much, but I don't drive." He never took favors.

Once his best friend confronted him on the way to the airport. He was in his forties and still didn't have his own apartment. He just paid rent. And his friend, this very rich guy told him, "Caymmi, I have a check here for you to buy any apartment that you want, and I don't want you to pay me back." It was one of the most difficult decisions of his life. He came home and discussed the matter with my mother for hours, for days. It was taking him so long to make up his mind that the guy got fed up and just bought the apartment for him.

It took my father many years, but he paid back every cent. Three words characterize Dorival Caymmi: dignity, integrity, and art. That's why everybody loves him. Everybody knows Caymmi. He's just a sweet, compassionate person with incredible talent, a very good godfather and very good dad. That's my father. He's unique among men, a national treasure. Those are some of the lessons I've learned, and that's how I try to live.


(Baden Powell and
Vinícius de Moraes)

Quem é homem de bem
Não trai o amor que lhe quer
Seu bem quem diz muito que vai,
Não vai assim como não vai
Não vem quem de
dentro de si
Não sai vai morrer sem amar
Ninguém o dinheiro
de quem
Não dá é o trabalho de quem
Não tem Capoeira que é bom
Não cai e se um dia ele cai,
Cai bem

Capoeira me mandou
Dizer que já chegou
Chegou para lutar
Berimbau me confirmou
Vai ter briga de amor
Tristeza camará


A man of goodwill
Doesn't betray his beloved
He who protests too much will
Neither come nor go
And he who doesn't come
out of himself
Will die without ever loving anyone
The money of someone who
doesn't give
Is the labor of one who has nothing
Capoeira, who is good, never falls
And if one day he does,
He falls well.

Capoeira sent me a message
To say he has already arrived,
Arrived to settle a grudge
Berimbau sent me confirmation
That there's going to be a fight for love
Sadness, my friend


Conversa de Botequim
(Noel Rosa)

Seu garçom faça o favor de me
trazer depressa
Uma boa média que não seja
Uma pão bem quente com
manteiga à beça
Um guardanapo e um copo
d' água bem gelada
Feche a porta da direita com
muito cuidado
Que eu não estou disposto a ficar
Exposto ao sol
Vá perguntar ao seu freguês
ao lado
Qual foi o resultado do futebol

Se você ficar limpando a mesa
Não me levanto, nem pago a
Vá pedir ao seu patrão
Uma caneta, um tinteiro,
Um envelope e o cartão
Não se esqueça de me dar palito
E um cigarro pra espantar
Vá dizer ao charuteiro
Que me empreste uma revista,
Um cinzeiro e um isqueiro

Telefone ao menos uma vez
Para 34-4333
E ordene ao seu Osório
Que me mande um guarda-chuva
Aqui pro nosso escritório
Seu garçom me empresta algum
Que eu deixei o meu com
o bicheiro
Vá dizer ao seu gerente
Que pendure esta despesa
no cabide
Ali em frente

Bar Banter

Hey, waiter, could you
bring me
A fresh cup of coffee with
A piece of hot toast with
plenty of butter
A napkin and an ice-cold
glass of water
Shut that door over on
the right
I am not ready for
the sunlight
Go ask the customer
next to me
The soccer game's score

If you keep cleaning the table
I won't get up or pay
the bill
Go ask you boss
For a pen, some ink
An envelope and a postcard
Don't forget to give me a toothpick
And a cigarette to frighten
the mosquito
Go tell the tobacconist
To lend me a magazine
An ashtray and a lighter

Dial at least once
The number 34-4333
And tell Mr. Osório
To send me an umbrella
Here to our office
Waiter, please, lend me some
As I left my money with
the lottery man
Go tell the manager
To hang the bill up on the
coat rack
Over there


A Felicidade
(Tom Jobim/Vinícius de Moraes)

Tristeza não tem fim
Felicidade sim
Tristeza não tem fim
Felicidade sim

A felicidade é como a gota
De orvalho numa pétala de flor
Brilha tranqüila
Depois de leve oscila
E cai como uma lágrima de amor

A felicidade do pobre
A grande ilusão do carnaval
A gente trabalha o ano inteiro
Por um momento de sonho
Pra fazer a fantasia
De rei ou de pirata ou de jardineira
Pra tudo se acabar na quarta-feira

Tristeza não tem fim
Felicidade sim
Tristeza não tem fim
Felicidade sim

A felicidade é como a pluma
Que o vento vai levando pelo ar
Voa tão leve
Mas tem a vida breve
Precisa que haja vento sem parar

A minha felicidade está sonhando
Nos olhos da minha namorada
É como esta noite passando passando
Em busca da madrugada
Falem baixo por favor
Pra que ela acorde alegre
com o dia
Oferecendo beijos de amor


Sadness has no end
Happiness yes
Sadness has no end
Happiness yes

Happiness is like a drop
Of dew on a flower petal
It shines tranquilly
Then lightly oscillates
And falls like a tear of love

The happiness of the poor
seems to be
The great illusion of Carnaval
People work all year long
For just a moment to dream
To make the costume
Of king or pirate or of gardener
But everything ends on Wednesday

Sadness has no end
Happiness yes
Sadness has no end
Happiness yes

Happiness is like a feather
The wind carries through the air
It flies so lightly
But has a brief life
It needs a wind without end

My happiness is dreaming
Of the eyes of my sweetheart
Like the night passing, passing
In search of the dawn
Speak softly please
She needs to awaken happily with
the day
Offering kisses of love


Artist(s) Title Label Date
Dori Caymmi Influências Universal 2001
Various Chico Buarque— Songbook 1 Lumiar 1999
Dori Caymmi Cinema—A Romantic Vision Atração 1998
Dori Caymmi Tome Conta de Meu Filho Que eu Também Já Fui do Mar EMI Music 1996
Edu Lobo Meia-noite Velas 1995
Família Caymmi Caymmi em Família Som Livre 1994
Dori Caymmi If Ever Qwest/Warner 1994
Danilo, Dori, Dorival and Nana Caymmi Família Caymmi em Montreux Polygram 1992
Dori Caymmi Kicking Cans Qwest/Warner 1992
Dori Caymmi Brasilian Serenata Qwest/Warner 1990
Dori Caymmi Dori Caymmi Elektra/Musician 1988
Família Caymmi Dori; Nana; Danilo e Dorival Caymmi ao Vivo EMI-Odeon 1987
Sarah Vaughan Brazilian Romance CBS 1987
Família Caymmi Caymmi's Grandes Amigos EMI-Odeon 1986
Elis Regina Luz das Estrelas Som Livre 1984 - (Posthumous release)
Dori Caymmi Dori Caymmi EMI-Odeon 1982
Dori Caymmi Dori Caymmi EMI-Odeon 1980
A.C.Jobim Matita Perê MCA 1973
Dori Caymmi Dori Caymmi Odeon 1972
Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa Domingo Philips 1967
Antônio C. Jobim / Dorival Caymmi Caymmi Visita Tom Elenco 1965


1 Gal divided her 1967 debut album, Domingo, with Caetano Veloso because the Philips label didn't believe either artist warranted an individual album. Gal and Caetano divided the twelve tracks, six each, none of which was performed together. Dori Caymmi, though uncredited, wrote the arrangements and was responsible for the musical direction of this as well as Gilberto Gil's first album.

2 Dori is the oldest son of composer Dorival Caymmi, the bard of a now classical vision of Bahian folk culture.

3 Johnny Mandel added to his Grammy collection by wining Best Arrangement Grammys for Natalie Cole's Unforgettable album (1991) and Shirley Horn's Here's to Life (1992).

4 Ex-Senator Antônio Carlos Magalhães is a national political figure and the head of Bahia's very effective political machine, whose cultural policy is to promote Bahia as a fountainhead of Brazilian culture and to sponsor, and even control, all emerging cultural phenomena. His barrel-chested physique, striped shirts, and white hair recall Dorival Caymmi.

Bruce Gilman, music editor for Brazzil magazine, received his Masters degree in music from California Institute of the Arts. He is the recipient of three government grants that have allowed him to research traditional music in China, India, and Brazil. His articles on Brazilian music have been translated and published in Spanish, German, Serbian, and Portuguese. You can reach him through his e-mail:

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