CD REVIEW: Baden Powell - Images on Guitar

Baden Powell - Images on Guitar
(MPS 0211343MSW. CD Review by Peter Jones)

Brazilian guitar master Baden Powell died in 2000; this is MPS’s remastering of an album he made for them in late 1971 with French singer Janine de Waleyne, plus occasional backing from Ernesto Gonsalves on double bass, Joaquim Paes Henriques on drums and Alfredo Bessa on percussion. All the tunes are his own compositions, some written in collaboration with de Waleyne, others with the poet and lyricist Paulo César Pinheiro.

As a player who stuck with the nylon-stringed guitar, Baden Powell had a precise, classical style, particularly prominent on Petit Waltz, Conversação Comigo Mesmo and Sentimentos – Se Voce Pergunta Nunca Vai Saber (‘Feelings – if you have to ask, you will never experience them’), the latter a stunningly beautiful piece for solo guitar. The voice of de Waleyne might not be to everyone’s taste: it’s a world away from the breathy impressionism of Astrud Gilberto or the dark romanticism of Joyce Moreno, but with its clarity and cool, operatic swoops, as on Violao Vagabundo, it’s a good fit with the music.

Hard to believe, but most of these tunes were created in the studio. The only weak track is the long, mostly improvised Blues à Volonté, in which de Waleyne attempts scatting, with somewhat toe-curling results. But she’s great on Canto, just singing wordlessly in the gaps between Baden Powell’s spacious guitar phrases.

(In case you were wondering, Baden Powell de Aquino was his real name: his father was a big fan of the founder of the scout movement. And in the mid-eighties he did make his home for five years in... Baden-Baden.)

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