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Nana Caymmi, daughter of samba composer Dorival Caymmi is one of the more revered modern MPB vocalists. Her repertoire tends towards moody jazz balladry and torch songs... It may be too sleek or too goopy for some, but she does have a powerful, evocative presence. Caymmi's brothers, Dori and Danilo, have also recorded extensively, both as solo artists and as studio players; the Caymmis have performed and recorded together as the Familia Caymmi, and frequently appear on each other's albums.


Nana Caymmi "Nana" (Elenco, 1967)
Early in her career, Nana Caymmi was clearly an artist stretching against various limits, pitting her raw talent against her inexperience and the relatively parochial nature of the mid-'60s Brazilian scene. As a balladeer, she had two models to draw on -- the "radio singers" style of the 1940s and '50s, and the more reserved bossa nova sound that was largely petering out by the time of these recordings. Here, Caymmi can be heard developing a new musical vocabulary, a richer style that in hindsight can be placed in the slick MPB camp of the 1970s, a form that she would excel at and exemplify. These tracks are rough by comparison, not unpleasant or strained, but rather less sonically filled-out and stylistically accomplished than her ambitions demanded. It's like a rough study for a great painting; but then again, if you find yourself turned off by the overripeness of her later, classic recordings, this early stuff may be a bit more endearing. At any rate, it's an interesting look at one of MPB's most renowned vocalists, at a formative stage in her career. Aloysio De Oliveira produced the album, while Oscar Castro-Neves provided the arrangements; most of the songs were written by her father.

Nana Caymmi "Trova" (RGE, 1973)
This is apparently material she recorded in Argentina in 1973, although I don't think it actually came out as an album back then...

Nana Caymmi "Nana Caymmi" (CID, 1975)
Quite nice. Caymmi's vocals are much lighter and more playful than on subsequent albums, and the arrangements are melodic and nimble, and more varied from track to track than on later records. The opening song is a lovely version of Milton Nascimento's "Ponta De Areia" where Milton's touch is unmistakable, but the goopy, glossy aspects of his own albums are absent here: it's the kind of recording that helps you understand what other musicians saw in him as a songwriter. From there, Nana works her way through the cream of the crop, with songs by Jobim, Ivan Lins, Vinicius De Moraes, a trio of tunes by her father, and a few less canonical songs as well. One funny note is the opening passage to one of these songs, "Passarela," credited to Dafe, which copies the opening to Joni Mitchell's "Free Man In Paris" almost note for note: hard to say whether it's a relief or a disappointment that it wasn't actually a cover of the song. Anyway, I'd rate this as one of Nana's best albums... It's not too stuffy and the song selection and musicanship -- with Toninho Horta, Robertinho Silva and Nelson Angelo anchoring the band -- is first-rate throughout. Recommended!

Nana Caymmi "Renascer" (CID, 1976)
Well, but then she turns around and delivers one of these soporific, overly-serious ballad-heavy albums (which is more typical of her career as a whole...) Generally, I don't find the orchestrations on this album, by her brother Dori, to be very distinctive or engaging. One exception is "Desenredo," which has a lovely string arrangement... Otherwise, though, this seems sluggish and relatively drab to me. . Danilo and Dori Caymmi, Joao Donato and Milton Nascimento are among the musicians on here... It's all classy and pretty enough, but also very mannered and leaden.

Nana Caymmi "Beijo Partido" (CID, 1976)
I suppose this is Nana at her peak -- the arrangements are solid, her voice isn't overly slushy and the album, while deliberate, isn't nearly as sedate as later works. This kind of sleepy, jazz-informed balladry isn't exactly my cup of tea, but I recognize that this is one of the better albums in the style... fans of Maria Bethania's slower material might like this a lot; Caymmi has a very similar tone and delivery. Guests artists include her brothers, as well as Milton Nascimento, Joao Donato and Tom Jobim.

Nana Caymmi "Atras Da Porta" (CID, 1977)

Nana Caymmi "Nana" (RCA, 1977)

Nana Caymmi "Nana Caymmi" (EMI-Odeon, 1979)
Refined almost to a fault, this set of slow ballads is actually rather sleepy and syrupy, with languid string arrangements throughout. Best track is "No Analices" (which sounds an awful lot like Chico Buarque's "Calice"), but there isn't much else to get excited by here. Nothing offensive or garish, but you'd definitely have to be on a very mellow wavelength to appreciate this one.

Nana Caymmi "Mudanca Dos Ventos" (EMI-Odeon, 1980)
A suave, tasteful album of pop ballads, very much along the lines of Maria Bethania's Alibi. Caymmi's vocals and the arrangements by her brother Dori are both very restrained, and avoid the excesses of many of her other releases -- if you wanted to check her out, this would be a good place to start.

Nana Caymmi "E A Gente Nem Deu Nome" (EMI/Odeon, 1981)

Nana Caymmi & Cesar Camargo Mariano "Voz E Suor" (EMI/Odeon, 1983)
A fascinating collaboration between vocalist Caymmi and jazz pianist/arranger Cesar Camargo Mariano. It's just the two of them, performing as a piano-vocal duet, each improvising and sliding around the melodies. The most striking thing about this record is the degree to which the usual rhythmic drive of Brazilan music is almost entirely set aside; it may seem a little noodly, and it won't knock your socks off the way many MPB albums do, but it's certainly some of the richest work of either artist's career. An interesting change of pace, and a very dense, rewarding record. Recommended.

Nana Caymmi "Choro Brasileira" (EMI-Odeon, 1985)
More maudlin balladry, and very much a retread of earlier work. Well-produced, but a bit further into soft-jazz territory than I'd care to go.

Nana Caymmi "Nana" (EMI-Odeon, 1988)

Nana Caymmi & Wagner Tiso "So Louco" (EMI-Odeon, 1989)

Nana Caymmi "Bolero" (EMI-Odeon, 1993)
A mostly-Spanish language album, wherein Nana explores the gloriously slushy romantic ballads that Latin America loves so well.

Nana Caymmi "A Noite Do Meu Bem - As Cancoes De Delores Duran" (EMI-Odeon, 1994)

Nana Caymmi "Alma Serena" (EMI, 1996)

Nana Caymmi "No Coracao Do Rio - Ao Vivo" (EMI, 1997)

Nana Caymmi "Reposta Ao Tempo" (EMI, 1998)

Nana Caymmi "Sangre De Mi Alma" (EMI, 2000)
A Spanish-language album.

Nana Caymmi "Desejo" (Universal, 2001)

Nana Caymmi "Duetos" (Som Livre, 2004)

Nana Caymmi "Ate Pensei" (EMI, 2005)

Nana Caymmi "Sem Poupar Coracao" (Som Livre, 2009)

Familia Caymmi

Dorival Caymmi "Caymmi Visita Tom" (Elenco, 1964)
Caymmi covers Jobim tunes, with accompaniment by his kids, including Nana, who sings several songs. Overall, this is a mixed album, equal parts sappiness and class. The best tracks are the ones Papa Caymmi sings on, the worst are the instrumentals, which showcase Dori and Danilo Caymmi on guitar and flute.

Vinicius De Moraes & Dorival Caymmi "Caymmi No Zum Zum" (Elenco, 1967)

Dorival, Nana, Dori & Danilo Caymmi "Caymmi's Grandes Amigos" (EMI Odeon, 1986)
Notable for its relative restraint (as compared to the various solo albums by the Caymmi siblings...), this features Dorival on a couple of tracks, and although he is somewhat diminished by age, he still has tremendous presence. The album as a whole is pretty good, although predictably goopy.

Familia Caymmi "Familia Caymmi - Ao Vivo" (EMI-Odeon, 1987)

Familia Caymmi "Em Montreux" (Polygram, 1992)

Familia Caymmi "Caymmi Em Familia" (Som Livre, 1994)

Danilo, Dori & Nana Caymmi "Para Caymmi: 90 Anos -- Ao Vivo" (Warner, 2004)


Nana Caymmi "Nana Caymmi"
This seems to be a combination of material from her first two albums in the early '70s... classic material, to be sure!

Nana Caymmi "Performance" (EMI, 1996)
A best-of which emphasizes sedate vocals, draped in dinner-jazz arrangements. Mainly covers the early 1980s, and includes songs by Luis Gonzaga, Jr., Ivan Lins and the like. Too goopy for my tastes and not much here I would recommend.

Nana Caymmi "Meus Momentos" (EMI, 1992)
A 2-CD set combining two best-of discs from the early '90s...

Nana Caymmi "Serie Bis" (EMI, 2000)

Nana Caymmi "Retratos" (EMI, 2004)


  • Nana's website has all the usual info - a discography, a biographical outline, updates and the like... Folks with small computer screens may be frustrated, though, by the lack of navigability on the opening page... there's no scroll bar option and all the links are at the bottom of the page. If you "can't get there from here," try going to this second page, which goes into the bio section...

  • All Brazilian Music, as usual, has a good biographical sketch and discography... Recommended website!

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