SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Baden Powell – Solitude On Guitar – Columbia Records (1973)/ Speaker Corners LP

A legend of Brazilian music.

Published on November 10, 2011

Baden Powell – Solitude On Guitar – Columbia Records (1973)/ Speaker Corners Records (2011) C 32441 180-gram virgin vinyl stereo LP, 39:02 ****1/2:

(Baden Powell – guitar, vocals, arrangements; Joaquim Paes Henriques – drums; Eberhard Weber – bass)

Born in the state of Rio De Janeiro and named after the founder of the Boy Scouts, Baden Powell became a legend of Brazilian music. A guitar virtuoso, he was a professional musician by the time he was fifteen. In 1959 he composed “Samba Triste” which was recorded by several artists, including Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd on their seminal LP, Jazz Samba. Despite the popularity of bossa nova, Powell created a new sound, merging various Afro-Brazilian styles with samba. Relying on acoustic guitar, he merged jazz sensibilities and classical structures with flair and structured precision.

In 1962, he formed a writing partnership with poet/diplomat Vinicius de Moraes. This collaboration produced a series of LPs under the title of Os Afro-Sambas de Baden e Vinicius. He released various jazz and Brazilian albums, eventually moving to Europe. He continued to perform and record, and eventually returned to his beloved country.

Solitudes In Guitar (1971), Powell’s twenty-sixth release is a dizzying array of acoustic guitar bravado. Despite the implications of the title, the twelve tracks conjure up a variety of intense moods. Not relying on commercialized popular contexts, the arrangements have a unique vitality. “Fim Da Linha (End Of The Line)” is a spry, melodic samba. Powell’s impressive, percussive fingering drives the flow of the number. Drummer Joaquim Paes Henriquez meshes his drumming with dedicated precision. The full trio (which includes bassist (Eberhard Weber) erupts on “Bassamba” in an energetic, spontaneous jam. Weber contributes an extended, vibrant solo. “Chara” is performed as a duet for guitar and drum. Powell’s innate timing elevates this concise piece.

Several tracks explore deeper, expressive musical themes. A jazzy, nuanced cover of “The Shadow Of Your Smile” (from The Sandpiper) may be the greatest treatment of this standard. With just solo guitar, Powell breathes new life into this romantic ballad. The range of expression and unassuming tenderness infuses melancholy that connects. The ability to interpret composition shines on an early Jobim tune “Por Causa De Voce (Because Of You)” His tribute to his homeland (“Brasiliana”) is pensive, not frivolous.

Powell is not hesitant to challenge himself. “Marcia, Eu Te Amo” (dedicated to his wife) rises above customary sentimental balladry. The trio sustains a deliberate, pulsating rhythm while Powell adds improvisational accents in counterpoint. On “Na Gafeira Do Vidigal” there are layered guitar runs with minor chords that underscore the complexity of his musical intuition. The instrumental play is flawless. With a keen ear for jazz, he reinvents a traditional folk song (“Kommt Ein Vogel Geflogen”).

The quality of the sound reproduction on this audiophile vinyl is exemplary. The tone of the guitar is warm and pure. Solitude On Guitar is an acoustic gem.

TrackList:
Side 1: Introducao Ao Poema Dos Olhos Da Amada; Chara; Se Todos Fossem Iguais A Voce; Marcia, Eu Te Amo; Na Gafeira Do Vidigal; Kommt Ein Vogel Geflogen
Side 2: Fim Da Linha; The Shadow Of Your Smile; Brasiliana; Bassamba; Por Causa De Voce; Solitario

–Robbie Gerson




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