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Baden Powell interprets One Note Samba with sheet music
Baden Powell – a Short Biography
Baden Powell was considered one of the world’s best contemporary acoustic guitar players and one of the most expressive composers of 20th century Brazilian popular music.
Baden Powell was born in the town of Varre-e-Sai (State of Rio de Janeiro) on August 6, 1937, first child of Adelina Gonçalves de Aquino and Lilo de Aquino and was named after the founder of the Boy Scouts, Robert Thompson Baden Powell, of whom Mr. de Aquino was an admirer. The family moved to Rio when the child was four months old and Baden then became a carioca from the São Cristóvão borough. The boy grew up listening to music: his father, a shoe maker by trade and a violinist by calling, held regular get-togethers at home, at which Pixinguinha and Donga, two of Brazil’s popular music icons, were always present.
At the age of eight, after much insistence from Baden, his father arranged for him study guitar with Jaime Florence (“Meira”), violinist from the group “Regional do Canhoto”. Florence introduced Baden to Brazilian popular music and the classics, especially the Spanish masters Francisco Tàrrega and Andrés Segóvia. The boy proved to be a prodigy on the instrument and the following year at age nine, performed in the program Papel Carbono, produced by Renato Murce at the Ràdio Nacional, winning first place as a guitar soloist. By thirteen Baden was practically playing as a professional musician, earning small cachets for performances in balls and parties in the suburbs.
After finishing junior-high school, Baden Powell worked as a musician for the Ràdio Nacional and toured the country performing in small towns. Around 1955 he joined the trio of pianist Ed Lincoln which performed in the Bar Plaza, in Copacabana. At that time jazz had marked its presence in Brazil not only by the possibilities of improvisation and the technique required, but also by the presence of jazz greats such as Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, etc. And the Plaza was the place to be for music lovers, including one of Powell’s admirers: Antônio Carlos Jobim.
That is when Baden started to compose and, all by himself, produced Deve Ser Amor (It Must Be Love), Encontro Com a Saudade (Date with Loneliness), Não é Bem Assim (Not Quite Like That). In 1956 came his first big success Samba Triste (Sad Samba), with lyrics by Billy Blanco. Other collaborators are: Aloysio de Oliveira (Vou por Aí – Wandering), Geraldo Vandré (Rosa Flor – Rose), Ruy Guerra (Canção à Minha Amada – A Song to My Love), etc.
In 1960, during a performance by Tom Jobim at Arpège, a nightclub in Copacabana, Baden met Vinícius de Moraes, who would become his most frequent collaborator and who was responsible for Baden’s integration into the bossa-nova movement. Cançã o de Ninar Meu Bem (Lullaby for My Love) was the duo’s first composition and was an immediate success. The new greats of modern music were practically in house arrest for three months. Samba em Prelúdio (Samba in Prelude), Só por Amor (Only for Love), Bom Dia Amigo (Good Morning, Friend), Labareda (Blaze), Astronauta (Astronaut) were from that vintage and remained in the charts for months on end.
Baden, now part of the bossa-nova movement, participated in shows and television programs. As an interpreter he highlighted his versatility, his refined technique coupled with unique musicality, conquering the highest applause for his absolute command of the instrument, virtuosity and personalized interpretations.
As a composer he contributed with his songs to the development of popular music. The composer’s inspiration is of unsurpassed richness and new, successful songs with lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes were introduced shortly; among these Além do Amor (Besides Love), Valsa Sem Nome (No-name Waltz), Deve Ser Amor (It Must Be Love), Canção do Amor Ausente (Song to an Absent Love), Consolação (Solace), Deixa (Let It Be), Amei Tanto (Too Much Loving), Tempo Feliz (Happy Times), Apêlo (Appeal), etc., etc. The Candomblé theme which had been attracting Baden for some time, generated a new flood of compositions by the duo called Afro-sambas. The first songs of the new genre were Berimbau and Samba da Bênção. The latter was part of director Claude Lelouch movie Un Homme et Une Femme, re-titled Samba Saravah.
In his declarations about Baden Powell, Vinicius de Moraes said: “Before Berimbau and Samba da Bênção, Baden had already chosen me to write Canto do Caboclo Pedra Preta (Black Rock’s Chant). That song was composed ‘right there and then’ – that is, music and lyrics for the second part searching for a meaning for the original caboclo’s chant. From that same period is Canto de Yemanjá in which, it is my opinion, Baden reached a beauty rarely attained.” Vinicius went on: “Baden’s musical antennae to Bahia and, in a final stretch, to Africa, allowed him to put together this new syncretism, adding a ‘carioca’ taste, within the spirit of modern samba, to the Afro-Brazilian candomblé, giving it a more universal dimension.”
Other Afro compositions include Canto de Ossanha (Ossanha’s Chant), Canto Xangô (Xango’s Chant), Lamento de Exu (Exu’s Lament), Bocoché (Secret) and Tristeza e Solidão (Sadness and Solitude).
In the Sixties, Baden went to the United States to meet and play with Stan Getz. In 1966, Baden went to Europe and became well known with the song Samba de Bençao which was part of the original soundtrack of French filmmaker Claude Lelouch’s Un Homme et Une Femme. One year later, he received his first Golden Record in Paris. In the Seventies Baden discovered Japan.
Baden Powell died on 2000. As an acoustic guitar virtuoso, he never forgot his Brazilian musical roots. Baden bridged the gap between classical and modern music.