Cathy Segal-Garcia reviews Dori Caymmi’s recent performance on 2/15/13 at the Jazz Bakery’s Moveable Feast, in the Kirk Douglas Theatre, Culver City, Los Angeles.
Here I am, sitting in the Kirk Douglas Theatre, waiting for the world renowned guitarist/vocalist/composer/arranger/producer, Dori Caymmi, to come out to start the show. A beautiful theatre, slanted up seating, with a medium large stage on the floor. The newest and most intimate of Center Theatre Group’s family of theatres. The 317-seat venue is located in a newly renovated historic movie theatre in Downtown Culver City. It’s an aesthetic environment surely.
We scored a seat in the very front center, so I’m pretty excited because I love being close to
musicians. Being a singer, I like to feel up close and personal, feeling like I’m actually part of
the band. There’s a stool in the center with an expectant mic, a piano and keyboard, a stool in the center back, and drums. I’m excited!
The group, a quartet, comes out after an introduction from founder Ruth Price. Actually, the co-founder, Ruth and singer/photographer Jim Britt started the Bakery in his photo studio, which was part of the Helm’s Bakery group of buildings in Culver City, almost 20 years ago. I used to sing there, and attended concerts there. When Jim’s lease was up, Ruth moved it across the lane to a great space that lasted until a few years ago. I worked there quite a bit; Ruth was very supportive to me and my projects. I’m a great admirer of hers. She was a subtle and swinging, knowledgeable singer in earlier days. A great teacher (I’ve seen her in action at my own Vocal Workshop series) and a lively and consistent worker, always recognizing great talent and art, and has accomplished rare thing…an ongoing, quality production space for Jazz!
Dori’s voice is at once, beautiful and distinct… A rich baritone, with depth of emotion that makes my insides release. Add that voice to a slow bossa beat, with subtleties of the rhythms and harmonies coming through the players…it’s romantic and beautiful from the very first moment!
The music is harmonically leading and surprising, which is part of what makes it so amazing to listen to! Within the same song, there are passages of different lengths, that are significantly different, but they relate and flow out of each other and into the next; like a river, running gently and endlessly, around rocks and curves, on and on.
The 2nd song showcased the pianist, Bill Cantos, singing his own keyboard solo…Wonderful! Vocally exciting, and great musical ideas… motifs repeating and developing into an exciting build and gentle drop. A slow, painfully beautiful “Corcovado” was next. How do the great Brazilian musicians create this gorgeous style, time and again?! Dori is having a love affair with the song; the notes, the way they sit in the harmony, the Portuguese lyrics….
And yet right after, this sweetheart of a man makes a joke relating to his “depressed versions of Brazilian music”, and then going into a mind blowing arrangement of “Brazil”! I have never heard or imagined a more beautiful and interesting arrangement. It took me at least 32 bars before I recognized it. The form seemed different, the chords were definitely beautiful substitutions, and even the melody, sung and played by Dori at first, seemed only slightly familiar! At a slow, sensuous groove, with all the rest, it was truly a holy experience!
Jerry Watts on electric bass is a prominent part of the music. A versatile and strong musician, in this setting, as each musician, he must hold his reigns and release at just the right times. Playing his bass like a guitar, his rhythmic choices seemed comfortable and perfect, even knowing how complex they really are!