Nov 14 2011

Baden Powell: Os Afro-Sambas


The Re-Recording of History


Os Afro-Sambas“The Afro-Sambas from Baden Powell and Vinícius de Moraes”… Many guitarists all over the world respectfully smile when they hear these words. The compositions are true masterpieces that never seem to loose their inspiring quality. The two legends in Brazilian Music recorded the album in 1966 as a conclusion of their mutual interest in the Afro-Brazilian culture.

en years after the death of Vinícius de Moraes (1980), Baden Powell recorded the songs again for an album that was released in 1990 as a limited edition. Now it’s made available for the large audience.

As a witness of the rise of Bossa Nova, Baden Powell (1937, Varre-Sai (north of Rio de Janeiro)) got in contact with Tom Jobim in 1959. Three years later Jobim introduced him to Vinícius de Moraes. The two got along together in a remarkable way. Baden crashed down at the apartment of his new friend for endless discussions about the Afro-Brazilian culture, theCandomblé. They were fascinated by the music and words that are used during the rituals. The talks about the West African religions and how they were mixed in Brazil with Catholicism started off the idea to integrate the knowledge into their own music. An intensive session of composing resulted in the Afro-Sambas from Baden Powell and Vinícius de Moraes! Baden Powell’s unique guitar style seemed to have been developed especially for this purpose. His classical training which he combined with an inimitable samba-technique completely comes to right when he plays the afro-sambas. His work is praised as a typical and pure Brazilian guitar style.

Baden PowellIn 1968 Baden moved to Europe to live in France. From there on he frequented venues all over Europe where he was immense popular. In the mid-70s the guitarist suffered health problems, caused by his drinking addiction. In 1983 he decided to live in (of all places) Baden-Baden in Germany. Five years later Baden returned to Brazil where he re-recorded the Afro-Sambas. He wanted to stay close to the original recording and take profit of the enormously improved recording quality. Just like on the original recording, the female vocal quartet Quarteto em Cy was invited to assist the voice of Baden Powell. A small army of percussionists added to the African influence of the music. We hear percussion instruments that are commonly used in theCandomblé.

Baden wrote the opening “Abertura” especially for this album. There are two other songs that don’t appear on the original album of 1966: “Labareda” and “Variações sobre Berimbau.” As a tribute to Vinícius de Moraes, Baden kept the arrangements of the other songs as close as possible to the original ones from the 1966 record. We can hear the finesse, power and character of Baden’s guitar all over this album. The countless rhythmic variations he turns out of his right hand are puzzling concerns for many guitarists. After his religious conversion to Evangelical faith (1997), Baden succeeded to quit his drinking addictions. But, funny enough, he also changed all African allusions during his performances to a Christian-tolerated level, an act that wasn’t much appreciated by his Afro-Samba followers!

Far too young, Baden Powell passed away in 2000 after suffering from diabetic and kidney problems. The guitarist, singer/composer will mainly be remembered for his amazing guitar technique and how he changed the Brazilian music scene with the music that we find on this album, the Afro-Sambas!



Baden Powell
Os Afro-Sambas
Biscoito Fino BF830 (2008)
DRG Brazil DRG-CD-31630 (2011)
Time: 57’57”


All compositions by Baden Powell and Vinícius de Moraes, except where noted.

  1. Abertura (Baden Powell)
  2. Canto de Ossanha
  3. Labareda
  4. Tristeza e Solidão
  5. Canto de Pedra-Preta
  6. Canto de Xangô
  7. Bocoché
  8. Canto de Yemanjá
  9. Variações sobre Berimbau
  10. Tempo de Amor
  11. Lamento de Exu