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Dori Caymmi: Half Moon Bay, California, November 11, 2012

Bill Leikam By

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Dori Caymmi Quartet
Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society
Douglas Beach House
Half Moon Bay, California

November 11, 2012

Brazilian veteran acoustic guitarist, singer, composer, and arranger Dori Caymmi engaged the audience at the Bach Dynamite & Dancing Society, aka the Douglas Beach House, with some of the most heartfelt songs of all time sung in Portuguese. Accompanying him were his longtime band members Bill Cantos on piano, keyboard and accompanying vocals, Mike Shapiro on drums and percussion, and Jerry Watts on electric bass. The concert focused upon Caymmi's recent Poesia Musicada (Music Taste, 2011), an intimate memoir to his late father, the famous Dorival Caymmi, the poet of Bahia. This was Caymmi's second appearance at the Bach, but his first with his own band. In Pete Douglas' opening remarks, he said, "Dori is my favorite singer." When the band took the stage, the audience burst with an intense and prolonged applause to welcome this two-time Grammy Award-winning singer.

It was clear from the outset that this quartet had played together for a long time. In short, it was tight and instinctively together on every song. The variations of the songs from the opening "Obsession" through Caymmi's "Alegre Menina" (Gabriela's Song) kept the audience riveted. Introducing "Velho Do Mar," the singer revealed that he had written the song for his late father, who had died August 16, 2008 a the age of 94, followed eleven days later by his also-famous mother, Stella. Based on a poem by Paulo Cesar Pinheiro, the song changed the feeling of the concert, with Cantos setting up his Yamaha Motif ES8 to bring in a full string section that captured the moment with sublime passion. It was a sensitive piece, as Caymmi's baritone caressed the notes with deep, lush feeling. Yet, toward the end of the song, the piece gradually developed into a crescendo. Shapiro's drums began a surge as the cymbals fluttered and then came crashing through. Caymmi's voice soared as if calling to the heavens. Although sung in Portuguese, as all of his songs were, it was unnecessary to understand the language, az Caymmi's voice was like a refined musical instrument and the feeling was crystal clear.

Between songs, Caymmi bantered with his band members, but it finally settled down once they had decided upon and masterfully slipped into the next piece. At one point, Caymmi noted that he'd written a song for the great Amazon River. Then looking out the windows from the Douglas Beach House, in his deep voice he said, "Look at that! Look at that sunset over the Pacific." In a display of reds and pinks, the sun had just settled on the horizon as the quartet eased its way into the singer's "Your Smile." Cantos opened the piece on the Motif ES8, and it sounded as though an orchestra had blossomed. Caymmi lifted the tempo of the piece with his refreshing baritone and acoustic guitar, while in the back Watts moved the rhythm along with Shapiro.

As the concert wrapped for the evening, the audience burst forth with a sustained, appreciative applause. The band returned and, with few words, put the finishing touches on the evening with Caymmi's "Amazon River (Rio Amazonas)." As the end of the piece, approached, Caymmi once again announced the names of his band members. Before the group had finished, it was clear, from a second round of wild applause, that this most fortunate audience knew that it had just experienced a magical journey through authentic Brazilian masterpieces sung by the master himself.

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