DORI CAYMMI GETS 'EMOTIONAL' WITH LATIN SOUNDS.
He's been living in Woodland Hills since 1993, but acclaimed Brazilian guitarist singer-songwriter Dori Caymmi rarely steps into the spotlight for a live local performance.
Instead, he prefers to write, record and work behind the scenes with heavyweight artists, including Sarah Vaughan, Branford Marsalis, Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones.
Tonight he'll emerge to perform a special outdoor concert at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of the sweeping new exhibit "The Arts in Latin America, 1492-1820."
"We're going to have a ball," the 63-year-old artist said in his warm baritone voice. "To be outside with your band during the summertime in California -- what more can you ask for?"
The son of bossa nova living legend Dorival Caymmi (who wrote for Carmen Miranda in the 1930s and even inspired her tutti-frutti hats), Dori Caymmi received a 1999 Grammy nomination for his arrangement of Henry Mancini's "Pink Panther" and bagged one of two Latin Grammys for his 2002 song "Saudade De Amar."
Describing himself as an "emotional player" who gets intimidated by pages of technical sheet music, Caymmi comfortably alternates between English and Portuguese and says he finds inspiration in family, his garden and his frequent trips back home to Brazil.
When did you first pick up a guitar?
I was ashamed to play guitar in front of my father when I was young. I respected him so much. Finally, I found one guitar he wasn't using and started to play without his knowledge. I was about 15, and I just started to play, watching people play, seeing chords and collecting chords, looking at photographs. I made my own style without a teacher. It's not that I don't like teachers, it's that my mind would go places. I'm more emotional. I have nothing to do with technique.
Who besides your dad influenced your musical evolution?
My influences were Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto. Those are my heroes. And then there's jazz and classical. I
studied a little classical. I never liked to study, but I studied (Maurice) Ravel and (Claude) Debussy. Then Miles Davis and John Coltrane. And then the American music from the '40s, Gershwin and Cole Porter. All this music was on the radio in Brazil.
You came of age during a military government in Brazil. How did that shape you as a musician?
We had a lot of censorship, a lot of problems with the military from the '60s to the '80s. It wasn't possible to have an opinion. They would come after you. I remember playing a concert in the '70s with Baden Powell, and we played the national anthem. Well, the next week, the guys from the police came and said, 'The president wants to hear your version.' We never went there, but it was scary. There was always this shade of the military government behind us. But we became very fertile as artists. This had a good side. You had to be creative to find ways to say things against them. We grew musically through this nightmare.
What are you planning for your performance at LACMA?
I'll be playing with Mike Shapiro (drums), Jerry Watts (bass), Bill Cantos (piano) and Scott Mayo (saxophone). We'll play some standards like "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "Pink Panther," and some songs from my father. Maybe a song I wrote about the Amazon forest. We're going to have fun.
What else are you up to these days?
Right now, I'm working on a dual poetry and music project with my Brazilian partner and lyricist Paulo Cesar Pinheiro. It will be a DVD. I'm also traveling back to see my family a lot. Four times a year I go there. My parents live in Rio, but my dad likes to visit Pequeri. It's in my mother's home state of Minas Gerais. It's the first place I fell in love with nature. It's all farmland with cattle and plantations. My father and I, we talk about this place and music. We are so close now. Much more than ever before. We talk about his life, guitar and great memories from the past, drinking and having fun.
Where do you get your inspiration when you're in Los Angeles?
From my garden in my backyard. We have coyotes and squirrels and birds. But right now I'm having a fight with the squirrels. They're eating all the fruit, my apples and peaches. I also have a pond. I stay here for my inspiration. And I'm inspired when I work with other musicians.
Nancy Dillon, (818) 713-3760
>When: 5 to 7 p.m. today.
>Where: Dorothy Collins Brown Amphitheater at LACMA in Hancock Park, north of the Hammer Building. LACMA is at 5905 Wilshire Blvd.
no caption (Dori Caymmi)