Philippe Baden Powell (son of Brazilian musical legend, Baden Powell de Aquino) is reinventing Brazilian jazz in the lineage of his father’s generation. Balancing the classical with the spiritual, the cinematic with the introspective, and sensitivity with a distinctly Brazilian groove, Notes Over Poetry, a new album for Far Out Recordings, calls upon the inspiration of the many musical and artistic greats Baden Powell has been surrounded by throughout his life.
“The great Brazilian poet and old family friend, Vinicius de Moraes used to say that ‘life is the art of encounter’, and that is what this album is about.” A nomadic upbringing - moving between Rio, Paris and the coincidentally named German city of Baden-Baden, as well as touring internationally alongside his father and brother, provided boundless encounters with inspirational figures, too many to name. Touring also gave Philippe his first taste of life in the spotlight: recorded when he was just thirteen, a sold out show alongside his father and brother at Sala Cecília Meireles in Rio De Janeiro, would become the 1996 album Baden Powell & Filhos.
Classically Brazilian in its roots, but global in its outlook, Notes Over Poetry sits as comfortably next to Tom Jobim’s ‘Wave’ as it does to Robert Glasper’s ‘Black Radio’. Vamos Donatear - a track dedicated to the great Joao Donato - is hot, fluid samba-jazz in the vein of the Brazilian legend himself, while the equally groovy Chica hosts punchy horn arrangements reminiscent of masterpieces by Arthur Verocai and Eumir Deodato. With lyrics in English, title track and the satin-soft ‘State Of Music’ lean toward the cooler climate of North American Hip/Hop and RnB, while ‘For You To Know’ is a spellbinding syrup of deep-jazz, flaunting Philippe’s innate talent for writing powerfully emotive melody and harmony.
To his father, Philippe attributes key characteristics which have enriched and guided him in his professional life: “He transmitted to me the passion and commitment indispensable to any artist.” With his father he also shares an innate pull towards collaboration as key to the creative process. “I can’t remember a time making music just by myself, I’ve always felt like a kid with toys waiting for friends to come and play.” Credit is indeed due to the musicians on the album, many of whom are legendary artists in their own right: French jazz drummer André Ceccarelli, who has worked with everyone from Aretha Franklin to Michel Legrande; prolific Belgian jazz vocalist David Linx; and Afro-Brazilian percussion master Ruca Rebordão.
Today we are in the midst of a global revival of jazz as an art-form capable of traversing its once tired image as music for an older generation, with the emergence of artists like Kamasi Washington, Shabaka Hutchings and Takuya Kuroda. Parallel to this, from MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira) to Samba, Bossa-Nova and Tropicalia, new generations are discovering Brazilian music from the 60’s onward. Philippe Baden Powell’s music perfectly reflects Brazil’s huge and unique contribution to the global jazz landscape, and with Notes Over Poetry, set for release in Spring 2017, he presents a milestone release in his career as a torchbearer for a new wave of Brazilian jazz artists.