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Baden Powell short biography

For almost half a century, the Brazilian born guitar player Baden Powell has been one of the key musicians among his country’s jazz scene. However, Powell’s work demonstrates a mastery of many classical guitar styles, from the South American tradition of flamenco to interpretations of the composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

Nevertheless, on the whole Powell built his reputation as an innovator of bossa nova or the marriage of Brazilian sambas and jazz, often aided by the poet and lyricist Vinicius de Moraes. Although his popularity in the United States has never truly expanded beyond jazz and guitar aficionados, Powell’s name has been virtually a household word in Europe from the early 1960s, when he relocated to that continent for several decades.

baden powell sheet music pdf

Born in the a small shantytown, called a favela in Portuguese, Powell grew up amongst a musical family. His father Lino de Aquino was a fairly successful violinist, and his grandfather had been an important orchestra leader. Seeing that the young Powell had an attraction to musical instruments— he had been caught stealing his aunt’s violin—Lino decided to sent his son to study with the nationally famous composer and guitarist Jaime Florense. Florense, under the stage name of Meira, had made a name for himself in the 1940s as an accompanist for many Brazilian radio stars and immersed Powell in a vigorous diet of trade secrets of the classical musician.

All the while, the budding musician was seduced by the sounds of jazz musicians such as saxophone player Charlie Parker and pianist Thelonius Monk.

By the mid-1940s, Powell had become something of a minor child star in Brazil, largely through the help of Florense. “When I was nine, my father entered me in a radio amateur hour contest—without telling me,” Powell remembered to Guitar Review writer Brian Hodel in 1990. “I had been playing only two years, but I played well.” Powell won the contest, and the publicity gave Florense a lever with which to boost his protégé into other engagements.

In 1947, Powell appeared in the first ever Brazilian television program, performing jazz pieces on an electric guitar. After this point, Powell would carry out his work almost exclusively through acoustic instrumentation.

Sheet music Baden Powell Songbook

Although Powell began playing professionally at the age of fifteen, it was not until the late 1950s that he began to take himself seriously as a composer, after his song “Samba Triste” became a popular hit for the singer Lucio Alves in 1956. However, it was not until his experience with the congealing school of bossa nova found in the Bar Plaza district of Rio de Janeiro that helped Powell develop his own flavor of songwriting.

While the exact origin of bossa nova is debated, it gained international fame in the 1960s through the work of artists such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao and Astrud Giberto, Chico Buarque de Hollande, and Powell himself.

Became Hero among European Jazz Buffs

In the early 1960s, Powell began his partnership with Vinicius de Moraes, who was already Brazil’s foremost poet. With the delicate, sometimes nostalgic mode of Powell’s music accompanied by the understated lyrics of Moraes, the duo became instrumental in defining what bossa nova meant to the world. Although his reputation in his own country had peaked upon his teaming with Moraes, Powell was celebrated even more in Europe, where the cool jazz flavor of bossa nova raged in many clubs.

“In Brazil the audience is affectionate, but it is a very select group,” Powell told Hodel. “In Europe, the same people who attend a rock concert will listen to Artur Rubenstein, jazz, everything. There is just so much culture!” As a result, in 1963 Powell moved to Europe, which remained his base of operations for three decades.

powell baden free sheet music pdf

Toured Brazil playing guitar at Florense’s suggestion, 1947; had first success with Lucio Alves’s recording of song “Samba Triste,” 1956; met lyricist and partner Vinicius de Moraes, 1961; moved to Europe to record with artists such as Herbie Mann, 1963; toured Europe as a band leader, beginning in 1966; recorded in New York City with American saxophonist Stan Getz, 1967; performed at the Berlin Guitar Festival, 1967; recorded bossa nova styled album La Grande Reunion with Stephane Grappelli, 1974; recorded acclaimed album Seresta Brasiliera, 1994; released retrospective record The Guitar Artistry of Baden Powell, 1998.

Awards: second place in first Festival of Brazilian Popular Music for song “Valsa do Amor Que Nao Vem), written with Moraes, 1965; fourth place in Festival of Brazilian Popular Music for song “Cidade Vazia,” written with Lula Freire, 1966; won French Golden Disc Award for album Le Monde Musical de Baden Powell, 1967’; won Biennial Samba Competition with “Lapinha,” written with P.C. Pinheiro, 1968.

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