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Baden Live à Bruxelles

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Album Review

Baden Live a Bruxelles is late gig, recorded in October of 1999, less than a year before his death the following September. Some of Baden Powell's later studio recordings lacked focus, or felt tossed off, or were controlled by whoever produced them. Not so here. On Live a Bruxelles, Powell's playing contains all of the majesty, elegance, and grace fans had come to expect. He is definitely on here. His program, as one would expect, is almost all samba. Having written with, and during the same era as, Vinicius de Moraes and Tom Jobim, Powell's memory of these difficult, yet utterly beautiful tunes is spotless. Listen to his "Samba Triste" here. Though he must have played it more than a thousand times in concert, he attacks it with the same delicacy and intensity he did when he first recorded it in the late 1950s. Another notable — on an album where there is no filler — is the fiery "Samba do Aviao," by Jobim, where Powell carries his jazz chops into the heart of the tune, turns it inside out, and never loses the essence. His improvised introduction to "Asa Branca," is a showstopper, where trace elements of flamenco, classical music, jazz, and Brazilian folk styles all weave together to create something utterly mysterious yet nearly hummable. The tune itself feels like an intro to the Powell/ de Moraes prelude "Samba em Preludio." Powell's reading of "Girl from Ipanema," is warm, humorous, and refreshing. There is genuine tenderness in it, without sentimentality. A surprise here — though he's recorded it before — is his articulate, reverent version of J.S. Bach's "Jesus Alegria Dos Homens." "Berimbau," is an exercise in his pure mastery of the guitar. Powell makes it sing. In sum, the audience who witnessed this concert were treated to something rare, and even heartbreakingly moving: a legend working through the fabric of his life in music. It's obvious that Powell was focused not just in mind, but in heart, too, so emotional is his playing. This is a must for fans, and one hell of an introduction for the curious.

Biography

Born: August 06, 1937 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Genre: Brazilian

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Baden Powell is a Brazilian musician with a solid international reputation. A gifted instrumentalist and composer, he bridges the gap between classical artistry and popular warmth and was a key figure in the bossa nova movement. Born in the Varre e Sai district, he was baptized after his grandfather, a musician and conductor himself, whose father was an admirer of the Boy Scouts founder. When he was four months old, his family moved to the hill of São Cristóvão in the city of Rio. His father, the...
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