Baden Powell - De aquino
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Baden Powell
De aquino
Iris Musique (

cd cover Brazil's Baden Powell could express a multitude of feeling through the guitar like few others. Using the rhythms and moods of samba as the spark to his flame, his guitar work seemed to articulate unfathomable beauty even as it scrambled and struggled to convey the sort of depth that words fail to impart. The tracks on this double CD were recorded for a documentary film on Powell, made during the final year of his life. Disc one consists of solo instrumental pieces and songs accompanied by flute and lightly frantic percussion, all bearing the influence of Powell's beloved Brazilian roots, though at times also laced with the European sensibilities he absorbed later in life. Perfectly capable of displaying dizzying virtuosity, Powell often lets gut-level emotion carry the tune instead. Joyous highs, melancholy lows and a multitude of colors in between emanate from knowing fingers, and all of it rings perfectly true. The second disc has a more celebratory air, spotlighting the breezy but complex form known as choro. Here Powell's guitar is joined by mandolin, flute, trumpet, cavaquinho and pandiero to create a swirling, cabaret-like atmosphere that's both raw and whimsical. Having been recorded mostly at informal jam sessions, the selections sound unpolished but musically solid nonetheless. Those who were taken by the brilliance of Iris Musique's recent reissue of Powell's Os Afro Sambas will find a very different side of the artist here, one that shows how skilled he was as guitarist, composer and team player. - Tom Orr

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