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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

BADEN POWELL

By Tom Orr
Published September 27, 2005

At The Rio Jazz Club
Iris Musique

On this 1990 live recording, the melodic essences of samba and bossa nova are front and center. Of course, a guitarist as skilled as the late Baden Powell had an uncanny ability to create the kind of syncopated continuity that underscored the African rhythms at the core of those enduring Brazilian styles as well. Powell’s solitary acoustic guitar carries the load here, and the array of chops he’d amassed through his lengthy career sound as though they held the intimate crowd sufficiently spellbound. The pieces are mostly instrumentals, some penned by the likes of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Dori Caymmi and Vinicius de Moraes. Those compositions and Powell’s own are taken to dizzying heights and pensive depths by Powell’s guitar mastery. Flurries of notes give way to stark spaces decorated by minimalist beauty, fast and slow passages both square off and harmonize and melodies break away only to reconnect more strongly. While some listeners will no doubt prefer the fuller sound of such Powell masterworks as Os Afro Sambas, the simple greatness of this disc works its own magic.