I got an email from my son in Brazil on Saturday, telling me that the legendary Brazilian singer and composer Dorivall Caymmi had died that morning. Given that he was 94 I suppose it was not exactly an unexpected passing but it was certainly a significant one. He was a hugely influential figure who apart from creating some wonderful music was to a large degree responsible for shaping the image of his native state of Bahia. He even appears as a character in some of the novels by his great friend, the writer Jorge Amado, notably in 'Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands'
Caymii was responsible for some of my favourite music. His 'Promessa de Pescador' (Promise of a Fisherman) was a cornerstone of Sergio Mendes' groundbreaking and innovative 1971 album 'Primal Roots'. João Gilberto (see previous posting) also recorded many of his songs, notably 'O Samba de Minha Terra', 'Doralice' and 'Rosa Morena', thus introducing them to a wider audience. However, most people probably became acquainted with his work originally because Carmen Miranda sang one of his songs in a 1939 Brazilian film 'Banana da Terra'. Here she is performing 'O Que É Que A Baiana Tem?'
Here by contrast is 'Doralice' performed by the singer and pianist Eliane Elias in 2005
and here is João Gilberto performing 'Rosa Moreno' in Argentina in 2000
Dorival Caymmi could also have featured in my May posting, Keeping it in the family, as his three children all became musicians and have achieved fame in their own right. Daughter Nana Caymmi has had a long career as a singer, including a period of involvement with the Tropicalia movement of the sixties. Here is a video of her performing Milton Nascimento's beautiful song 'Ponto de Areia' in 1985
Danilo Caymmi is a singer, guitarist, flautist and arranger who is perhaps less well known than his sister and his other brother but never the less worked with some of the best in the business. Here he is singing 'Felicidade' with its composer Tom Jobim at the Montreal Jazz Festival, I would guess, some time in the eighties.
Dori Caymmi is probably the most well known member of the family outside of Brazil, having translocated to Los Angeles at the end of the eighties, where he has worked with Dionne Warwick, Branford Marsalis, John Patitucci, Herbie Mann, Larry Coryell and Toots Thielmans, as well as almost every Brazilian artist you can think of! He is a fine singer and guitarist as well as being a first rate arranger. Here he is playing one of his father's compositions, 'É Doce Morrer do Mar' .Unfortunately the video footage is someone's 'visual interpretation'...
Finally, Here's a clip of Dorival himself performing 'O que é que a Bahiana tem', the song that helped launch his - and Carmen Miranda's career.
Well, this is a rather poor tribute to a great artist, but I hope it will inspire you to go and find out a bit more about his music, as well as that of his family. I hope you get as much pleasure from the experience as I've had over the years.