Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Latin Jazz Week: Baden Powell

This week JazzWrap will take a look at of artists, groups and albums that have shape Latin jazz as well as taking it beyond.

Baden Powell (guitar; b. 1937 - d. 2000)

Born in Rio de Janerio, Baden Powell was one the most influential Latin guitarists. He could play and almost reinvented/re energized every Latin genre he performed, Samba, Bossa Nova, Latin, etc. Baden Powell was classically trained and it shows throughout his recordings. His strong yet beautifully dynamic style of playing and composing really came to prominence around '55 when after seating as guitarist for a number of local bands Powell began to write his own material. In 1956 he would write the now famous "Samba Triste" which has since become a jazz standard, made famous by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd.

You may not know him as part of the wave of Bossa nova that sweep through music in the'60s by Jobim, Gilberto, Milton Nascimento, Joyce, Marcos Valle, Sergio Mendes and others, because at the zenith of the movement, Baden left for Europe where he would set his own pace, vision and history. He become immensely popular in Europe. Baden's style while powerful was verisitale in that he could create a down to earth atmosphere within just a few chords after lifting you into the heights of joy.

A great document to start a lesson on Brasilian jazz from Baden Powell would be O Universo Muiscial de Baden Powell (Sunnyside Records). O Universo Musicial covers a significant period and highly creative period in Powell's career ('64 - '77) including a lovely rendeniton of "Girl From Impenema," "Afro-Samba," "Berimbau," "Samba do Aviao, and a touchingly heartfelt version of "Round Midnight."

This collection is the best I've found that represents Powell peak period the best. Powell's music goes beyond the normal Brasilian jazz many people are familiar with, which is what has always been something I've found exciting. If the Brasilian stardards he turns slightly on its head to make something different. O Universo Musicial de Baden Powell is an absolutely perfect primer for anyone interested in Brasilian jazz and a must have if you are already of fan of Baden Powell.

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