Some may classify what I’m going to highlight today as psychedelic or weird, I refuse to do so. Sometimes, we forget that some of the most outre music, the one that challenges our orthodoxy, has always existed not in the outre monde but in the clear, visible world and has always been the actual current feeding the norm. Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes’ “Canto de Iemenja” from the “Os Afro-Sambas” album released in 1966, is a revelatory work for this reason. This album is the perfect link from Brazil’s bossanova age to its upcoming tropicalia phase.
Both artists were born in Rio De Janeiro. Vinicius, the much elder of the two, already had a longer trajectory at that time, being a diplomat, renowned playwright, and poet for early sambistas and bossanova artists like Joao (Vinicius wrote “Girl from Ipanema” and “Chega de Saudade” for ex.). Baden was a classically trained guitarist, who could play modern classical compositions with equal fervor and knowledge as most regional Brazilian musical styles, but had only laid down an album of samba songs which weren’t forward thinking enough for him.. Both were drawn into each other not just by region but by mutual admiration but both were at a stand still. Baden wanted, much like Vinicius, to experiment with bossanova and looking outwardly at the jazz, swing, and rock music being played wasn’t enough. Where could they turn?
Well for Vinicius, he started to look inwardly at the African influenced music of Bahia and the Northeast (Nordeste) of Brazil, for vocal and lyrical inspiration. Baden, already a master at a lot of these forms went inside, the spiritual realm was his inspiration. He started to study Gregorian chants and with Vinicius a lot of the traditions and practices of those Afro-Brazilian people. The fruit of all that labor was this album.
This is a mystical album that at that time must have sounded so out of step with popular music then. Baden’s guitar playing and arranging was no longer drawing exclusively from bossanova, it was far more experimental and elemental, drawing from shunned sources, while the verses sung from Vinicius and being replied back by Quarteto em Cy chants were far more rebellious and spiritual. It’s a hard sound to describe for a reason since it seems to exist outside of time, even I have a hard time describing it. This doesn’t make the music deeply affecting though. This elemental music served as the impetus for artists like Gilberto Gil, Jorge Ben, Caetano, or Os Mutantes to fully realize the next step in Brazil’s musical history, Tropicalismo. Brazil now held unique jewels that other artists could display.
Further Listening for Baden Powell:
– A Vontade (1963)
– Os Afro Sambas de Baden e Vinicius (1966)
– 27 Horas de Estudio(1969)
– Os cantores da Lapinha (1970)
– Apaixonado (1973)
World Cup Predictions for the Day:
– Switzerland v. Ecuador: Switzerland (Winner)
– France v. Honduras: Honduras (Winner)
– England v. Italy: Italy (Winner)
– Argentina v. Bosnia: Bosnia(Winner)