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Baden Powell: Canta Vinicius de Moraes e Paolo Cesar Pinheiro

From the opener, this reissue of the 1977 Paris recording by guitarist-composer and vocalist Baden Powell captivates the listener with the bright and happy sounds of “old-school” samba with “Labaréda,” written by Powell and superb lyricist Vinicius de Moraes.

Powell’s collaboration with de Moraes in the ’60s and Paolo César Pinheiro in the ’70s proved to be the anchors of his prolific career, penning numerous standards in the Brazilian repertoire of sambas, bossa novas and romantic ballads. Powell’s frail and slightly out-of-tune vocal is a compelling element of his sweet and lyrical compositions, and the tamborim and cuica-infused percussion sections create a consistent Carnaval atmosphere within the often uneven performance of the rhythm section.

With the exception of the somewhat monotonous nine-minute spoken-word fourth track, “Samba de Bencão,” the rest of the pieces are brief gems that display Powell’s subtle compositional style and his no-frills guitar-playing. The most dramatic songs are the ballads, as well as the rubato intros to some of the sambas, where his tender vocals shine. The bright “É de lei” features one of the snappier guitar solos on the album, and the lyrical “Cancioneiro” demonstrates Powell’s relaxed sense of phrasing and melodic genius.

It is clear from this recording that Powell was on the forefront of samba and bossa nova’s modernization, and the subtle quality he brought to the classic Brazilian sound can be cherished by a new generation of listeners.

Originally Published