Baden Powell de Aquino (6 August 1937 – 26 September 2000), known professionally as Baden Powell, was a Brazilian guitarist. He combined classical techniques with popular harmony and swing. He performed in many styles, including bossa nova, samba, Brazilian jazz, Latin jazz and MPB. He performed on stage during most of his lifetime. Powell composed many pieces for guitar, such as “Abração em Madrid”, “Braziliense”, “Canto de Ossanha”, “Casa Velha”, “Consolação”, “Horizon”, “Imagem”, “Lotus”, “Samba”, “Samba Triste”, “Simplesmente”, “Tristeza e solidão”, and “Xangô”.
Baden Powell de Aquino was born in Varre-Sai in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His father, a Scouting enthusiast, named him after Robert Baden-Powell. When he was three months old, his family relocated to the Rio suburb of São Cristóvão. His house was a stop for popular musicians during his formative years. He started guitar lessons with Jayme Florence, a famous choro guitarist in the 1940s. He soon proved a young virtuoso, having won many talent competitions before he was a teenager. At age fifteen, he was playing professionally, accompanying singers and bands in various styles. He was fascinated by swing and jazz, but his main influences were in the Brazilian guitar canon.
In 1955, Powell played with the Steve Bernard Orquestra at the Boite Plaza, a nightclub within the Plaza Hotel in Rio, where his skill got the attention of the jazz trio playing across the lobby at the Plaza Bar. When Ed Lincoln needed to form a new trio, he asked Powell to join on guitar to become the Hotel Plaza Trio. Powell brought in Luiz Marinho on bass and a fourth member of the “trio”: Claudette Soares on vocals. Powell, Lincoln, and their young musician friends took part in after-hours jam sessions, gaining notice in the growing Brazilian jazz scene.
Powell achieved wider fame in 1959 by convincing Billy Blanco, an established singer and songwriter, to put lyrics to one of Baden’s compositions. The result was called “Samba Triste” and quickly became very successful. It has been covered by many artists, including Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd in their seminal LP Jazz Samba.
In 1962, Powell met the poet-diplomat Vinicius de Moraes and began a collaboration that yielded classics of 1960s Brazilian music. Although bossa nova was the prevailing sound at the time, Baden and Vinicius wanted to combine samba with Afro-Brazilian forms such as candomblé, umbanda, and capoeira. In 1966 they released Os Afro-Sambas de Baden e Vinicius.
Powell studied advanced harmony with Moacir Santos and released recordings on the Brazilian labels Elenco Records and Forma, as well as in the French label Barclay and the German label MPS/Saba (notably, his 1966 Tristeza on Guitar). He was the house guitarist for Elenco, and of the singer Elis Regina’s TV show O Fino da Bossa.
In 1968, Powell joined with poet Paulo César Pinheiro and produced another series of Afro-Brazilian-inspired music, released in 1970 as Os Cantores da Lapinha.
Powell visited and toured Europe frequently in the 1960s, relocating permanently to France in 1968.
In the 1970s, he released recordings with labels in Europe and Brazil. In 1981, during four weeks, he was on the stage of Palais des glaces in Paris as guitarist and singer. However, he had health problems and spent the 1980s in semi-retirement in France and Germany. In the 1990s he and his family moved back to Brazil, where he continued to record and perform. Public recognition of his work came around that time in Brazil.
By the end of the 1990s he converted to the Evangelical faith, to which he credits overcoming his long addictions to alcohol and tobacco. He fell terminally ill in 2000 and died of pneumonia triggered by diabetes on 26 September 2000, in Rio de Janeiro.
He is the father of pianist Philippe Baden Powell de Aquino and guitarist Louis Marcel Powell de Aquino.
Baden Powell decided at age 19 to stop playing the electric guitar, preferring to concentrate on the classical guitar for the rest of his career. He did record a series of albums with a borrowed steel-string acoustic, but that is as far as he strayed from his main instrument in his adulthood.
An analysis of his repertoire reveals a wide range of interests. It spanned all the idioms of Brazilian popular music of the 20th century: samba, bossa nova, Afro-bahian ritual music, frevo, choro, and North Eastern Sertão music, and even European and Japanese lullabies. Like most musicians growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, he was deeply influenced by jazz, especially bebop and swing. He covered Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight” on two recordings, and Jerome Kern’s “All the Things You Are” on three occasions (including his first solo album).
This upbringing is reflected in his playing style, which shows a fusion of jazz harmonies and classical guitar technique, with a very Brazilian right hand (the one carrying the rhythm on the guitar). In solo classical music, he was proficient in the works of Tárrega and Bach. When playing in a group, he was able to accompany singers with quiet mastery, or let loose and play street samba in sloppy “party” style as if the guitar was another percussion instrument. Like Monk, he was fond of the minor second interval as a way to “bend” the tonality. However, because of his jazz background, he would rarely physically bend the string, preferring instead to play the minor second using an adjacent open string. Students of his style should note this preference for chord voicings that feature extensions on the open strings as a way of punctuating passages.
Other idioms to watch for are the endless variations in rhythm played by the right hand, always within the proper 2
4 samba meter, as well as his tendency to put his “signature” in a fast descending scale with a (slower) ascending arpeggio in the relative key. He also used vocalise and scat singing, often in unison with the melody line (especially when the melody was sung on the bass strings of the guitar).
His influences were his first teacher “Meira” (Jayme Florence, 1909–1982), Dilermando Reis (1916–1977), and Garoto (Anibal Augusto Sardinha, 1915–1955). He also commented about being influenced by the work of Les Paul (1915–2009), Django Reinhardt (1910–1953), and Jacques Loussier (1934–2019). (wikipedia)
And here´s his 4th Longplayer:
Baden Powell’s “A Vontade” – which means feeling very relaxed – can be seen as the true first and personal album on Elenco, which was recorded in 1963, his second one for Elenco. Finally, he left behind musical conventions and the heavily orchestrated arrangements of the fifties. With Bossa Nova having highest commercial success at that time he still plays his Afro-Sambas and shows his own musical point of view.
Baden Powell plays in his preferred small combo setting, often even without a bass player. The record opens with an instrumental version of the hit Garota de Ipanema which is followed by Baden Powell’s Berimbau. Some titles will be recorded only once, others he would record and perform many times. The last song, Samba Triste, comes in a slower solo version, partly sounding like an accompaniment version.
Joao Batista (drums)
Baden Powell (guitar)
Pedro dos Santos (sorongo)
Stockler Pimentel (drums)
Jorge Ferreira da Silva (flute)
unknown bass player
01. Garota De Ipanema (Jobim/de Moraes) 3.04
02. Berimbau (Powell/de Moraes) 3.27
03. O Astronauta (Powell/de Moraes) 2.29
04. Consolacao (Powell/de Moraes) 2.29
05. Sorongaio (dos Santos) 5.33
06. Samba Do Aviao (Jobim) 3.09
07. Saudades Da Bahia (Caymmi) 2.25
08. Candomble (Powell) 4.38
09. Conversa De Poeta (Queiroz/Santos-Vinicius/de Moraes) 4.26
10. Samba Triste (Powell/Blanco) 4.11