Dori's Inner World

Dori Caymmi's career just hit the half century mark. In recent years, the singer/songwriter/guitarist/arranger has looked back at his roots (2004's Grammy-nominated InfluĂȘncias) and announced -- at least in private conversation with this writer -- his retirement. Not one to let expectations stand in his way, Dori's back with a rich new recording that breaks new ground and expands his songbook.

Dori's sound is jazz -- specifically in the "smooth jazz" vein-- to American ears, more "erudite" in harmony and development than his father's irresistable Bahian sambas and ballads. Dori's guitar-playing, a skill he says he learned from Joao Gilberto, is ever at the center of his work, but the sound is filled out by such musical cohorts as percussionist Paulinho da Costa and sax/flute players Gary Meek and Scott Mayo.

Collaboration enriches Inner World, something evident to anyone who's caught his performances a few years back with Joyce and Gal Costa. Fortified by trading verses with as well as duetting with Scott Mayo, Bill Cantos, Renato Braz, and Edu Lobo, Dori echoes his father's rich presence while sounding nimbler and more energized than he has in at least a decade. And fearlessly, he jumps for the first time into English songwriting and performing thanks to compositional collaborations with lyricists Ina Wolf and Tracy Mann. Collaborative compositions with legendary lyricists Paulo Cesar Pinheiro and Chico Buarque, including the lovely Danca do Tucano, round out the set.

Another standout track isthe sinuous and rhapsodic Colors of Joy, with evocations of rainbows, sunsets, and racial harmony that would not have seemed out of place decades ago when Dori decided to try his luck in the United States jazz scene. Quebra-Mar is a gorgeous duet that echoes the searing yearing of his father's finest ballads of the Bahian fishermen, and this track in particular belies the flaccid marketing cliche on CDBaby, where the album is sold: a "soothing breeze from Brazil". No, Dori's more deeply felt, evocative, and engaging than that.

Look to Dori to tour the West and East coasts of the US behind this album soon.

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