Os Afro Sambas
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Baden Powell
Os Afro Sambas
Iris Musique (www.iris-musique.com)

cd cover This absolutely essential reissue shows just how deeply Baden Powell Africanized Brazilian bossa nova (blurring the lines between it and samba) and both cemented and modernized the musical links between Brazil and Africa that had already existed for centuries. The selections on this disc were originally collaborations with singer Vinicius de Moraes and first recorded in the mid-'60s. When Powell decided to re-record them in 1990, Moraes was deceased but Powell was intent on keeping the sound and spirit of the original teaming intact. Given the very high quality of the vocals, instrumental work, arrangements, production and general atmosphere of the album, it must be said that he succeeded in spades. After an opening six minutes of solo guitar as pensive and seemingly restless as the deep-in-thought cover photo of Powell, the main event begins: track after track of layered Afro-Brazilian percussion, dryly understated lead vocals complimented by echoey female voices (especially effective on the reverent-sounding "Canto de Iemanja"), more great guitar work and sadly sweet flute shadowed by what sounds like a bassoon. Moody, rhythmically alive and melodically gorgeous, this classic excels far beyond my attempts to describe it. Os Afro Sambas is a landmark in the career of Baden Powell, who passed away in 2000, as well as one of the high points in the massive musical output of Brazil. Acquainting or reacquainting yourself with its many charms is recommended with the utmost urgency. - Tom Orr

Available at cdRoots

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