Goodbye Song

    Goodbye Song

    American musician Stan Getz once asked Brazilian conductor
    Júlio Medaglia, "Why doesn’t Baden Powell move to Europe or
    the United States, where he would become the world’s greatest
    guitarist?" To what Medaglia answered, "Because, may be,
    he’s already the world’s greatest guitarist."
    By RODOLFO ESPINOZA

    The sounds he extracted from his guitar were magic and unique. Bossa nova owes a
    lot to him. His musical style at a time popular and erudite became a model for musicians
    all around the world. Now, his guitar is silent and the composer is not writing anymore.
    Baden Powell de Aquino died September 26 from pneumonia, in Rio, at age 63, after a stay
    of more than a month at Clínica Sorocaba. He was diabetic and had kidney problems. Much
    of his ailments originated in his youth when he started to drink heavily and smoke, two
    addictions that followed him throughout life.

    He presented his last show recently. It was on August 18 at Belo Horizonte’s (capital
    of Minas Gerais’s state) Minas Tênis Clube. His two sons, Phillipe, 20, and Louis-Marcel
    Baden Powell, 18, are both musicians. Marcel, according to some accounts, inherited the
    father’s talent for the guitar. Phillipe plays the piano. Baden was married for 23 years
    to Silvia, but he was living with Elizabeth do Carmo in the last three years. "Our
    project is to continue what he taught us," said Marcel. "And what he taught us
    was to like "Tico Tico no Fubá" as much as Bach."

    Before the end of the year, recording label Trama will release the last work of the
    guitarist in which he interprets compositions by Noel Rosa and Dorival Caymmi, among
    others. Lembranças, produced by Fernando Faro was recorded in May and also
    contains Baden’s compositions like "O Astronauta" with Vinicius de Moraes and
    "Falei e Disse" with Paulo César Pinheiro.

    Baden Powel was born on August 6, 1937, in Varre-Sai, a little town in the state of Rio
    de Janeiro, 220 miles from Rio city, close to the border of Espírito Santo. His father,
    Lino de Aquino, a shoemaker, boy scout leader and tuba player in his free time, named the
    son after a man he admired: Sir Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell (1857-1941), the
    British soldier who in 1908 founded de Boy Scouts. The future guitarist was still a
    three-month-old baby when he moved to Rio with his father, his mother Adelina and sister
    Vera. He lived in poor neighborhoods like Vila Isabel and São Cristóvão, famous for
    their talented musicians. Mr. Aquino used to receive at home legendary figures such as
    Pixinguinha and Donga.

    He was eight, when the father, arranged for Jaime Florence—a renowned composer and
    guitarist—to teach Baden the guitar. The lessons went on for seven years, during
    which time Baden mastered his instrument and learned to love and play classical pieces. He
    would continue his studies later, studying harmony, composition and music theory at Rio’s
    Escola Nacional de Música (National Music School). At 10 he got his first public
    recognition when he won a guitar competition at Rio’s Rádio Nacional. He became a
    professional at 14 with a special permit from the Juvenile Court and started to play in
    ballrooms, nightclubs, radio and TV.

    The guitarist was 18 when he started to play jazz in Rio’s nightclubs. He would soon
    meet and become friends with such bossa nova icons as Tom Jobim and Vinicius de
    Moraes. His first hit came in 1956 with "Samba Triste", a tune with lyrics by
    Billy Blanco. He would compose another 500 tunes. With Vinicius as lyricist —he met
    the poetinha (little poet) in 1962—Baden composed masterpieces like
    "Deixa", "Samba em Prelúdio", "Consolação",
    "Formosa", "Berimbau", and "Samba da Bênção".

    Already the Greatest

    He had other worthy partnerships. With Hermínio Bello de Carvalho, he created
    "Samba da Partida" and with Paulo César de Carvalho, composed among other
    songs, "Refém da Solidão". In 1963 he caused sensation at the Paris’s Olympia
    Theater playing Ravel while the public was expecting Carnaval tunes.

    In the early sixties, American musician Stan Getz once asked conductor Júlio Medaglia,
    "Why doesn’t Baden Powell move to Europe or the United States, where he would become
    the world’s greatest guitarist?" To what Medaglia answered, "Because, may be,
    he’s already the world’s greatest guitarist." During the ’70s he ended up leaving
    Brazil to live in France and Germany. He would only go back to Brazil in 1994 when he
    released the CD Baden Powell de Rio a Paris.

    Soon after coming from France in 1964, Baden Powell went to live for six months in
    Salvador, Bahia. Interested in absorbing as much black popular culture as he could, the
    composer became an assiduous frequenter of terreiros de candomblé (Afro-Brazilian
    religion temples) and the sound of their instruments like tambours and berimbaus
    would deeply influence his work. After 1997 when he became an evangelical he reneged some
    of the tunes composed at this time.

    French writer Dominique Dreyfus, who wrote Baden Powell’s biography, O Violão Vadio
    de Baden Powell (Baden Powell’s Idle Guitar), describes the guitarist as temperamental
    and timid, but also sensitive and compassionate. Modest, he never mentioned his
    international success. He also talked to her about his drinking problem. He would
    sometimes disappear for days, going from one bar to the other, until the family would call
    the police and the radio stations to find him. His religious conversion also made him stop
    drinking.

    What they are saying:

    Billy Blanco, partner in "Samba Triste":

    "The MPB (Música Popular Brasileira—Brazilian Popular Music) lost its most
    important and perfect guitarist. About other talents, we can say that Turíbio Santos, in
    erudite music, and Sebastião Tapajós, a Baden disciple, have also reached perfection.
    But Baden was absolute, he went well beyond the acquired technique with interminable hours
    of study. Baden studied so much that I used to say he was addicted do the guitar. He would
    wake up fingering the instrument. He wouldn’t take a break to give relief to his hand in a
    warm water pot. They would become hardened. With Baden we cannot use that saying that no
    one is irreplaceable."

    Singer and composer Carlos Lyra:

    "Baden was at Vinicius home when he presented "Samba em Prelúdio", a
    tune he had just composed. Vinicius heard and liked it so much that he said that the
    composition was from Chopin. Baden denied but Vinicius insisted. At the end, Vinicius
    called one of his sisters who knew classical music very well, asked Baden to play and made
    de questions: "Isn’t this Chopin?" She says no, Chopin had never written that
    music. But Vinicius still unconvinced said, "Chopin didn’t make it because he forgot
    it. This song belongs to him." I first met Baden in a bar, in 1955. In 1959, I
    recorded my first LP and called him to play with me. We’ve never unglued from each other
    since that time. Baden at that time made enough only to pay the rent, he made a living
    playing here and there. But it was Vinicius who united us forever saying that Baden, Tom
    Jobim and I formed the Holy Trinity. Baden who was Garoto’s heir leaves no heir."

    Mário Telles, singer and composer:

    "We lost a master. Baden was responsible for the creation of a style and this is
    not for any soldier of fortune. It was he who placed African roots in bossa nova. I
    hadn’t seen him for 20 years, but we were partners in drinking and making music. I would
    say that familiarity with Baden was the reason I never attempted to learn the guitar.
    Pelé’s friend cannot play soccer. Baden was the Pelé of the Brazilian guitar."

    Júlio Medaglia, conductor and director at Teatro Municipal de São Paulo, who
    was Baden’s producer during his Germany period, in the ’70s:

    "In his generation, Baden was for sure the greatest guitarist in the world. His
    big differential was his right hand agility, a quality that not even the best musicians
    from the American jazz have. American jazz players are virtuosi but with the left hand
    with which they juggle. Baden united both things. At the same time that he produced
    perfect harmonies with the left, he had a vibrant right, full of rhythmic modulations that
    made his guitar unique… Unfortunately, his drinking and his inconstancy harmed him a
    lot professionally. American musicians are completely crazy but they get an astronomical
    efficiency when it’s time to work. Baden conciliated both hands, but he couldn’t
    conciliate talent and professionalism. His career could have been much bigger than it was.
    Baden was a genius."

    Music critic Tárik de Souza wrote:

    "The acoustic guitar was for bossa nova what the electric guitar was for
    rock. And the Jimi Hendrix of this revolution was called by the scout name of Baden Powell
    de Aquino. He was a Garrincha [late famous soccer player] of the strings and with
    disconcerting dribbles (and the same ethylic combustion) in genres and styles mesmerized
    the world by the combination of technique, speed, dynamism, and emotional allure. Despite
    having made a place for himself at bossa nova’s army, in partnership with poet
    Vinicius de Moraes, Baden was never bossanovista… He became a star in the main
    showrooms in Europe (mainly France and Germany), running in the opposite direction of his
    colleagues in the movement (João Gilberto, Luís Bonfá, Sérgio Mendes, Oscar Castro
    Neves, Eumir Deodato, Airto Moreira), who preferred the American market.

    Discography:

    Suíte Afro-consolação – 1998
    Baden Powell à Paris – 1996
    Live at Montreux Jazz Festival – 22 Juillet 1995/1996
    Baden Powell & Filhos – 1995
    De Rio à Paris – Décembre 94 – 1994
    The Frankfurt Opera Concert – 1975/1992
    Live in Switzerland – 1992
    Afro-sambas – 1990
    Live at the Rio Jazz Club – 1990
    Violão em Seresta – 1989
    Felicidade – 1983
    De Baden para Vinicius – 1981
    Nosso Baden – 1980
    Maria D’Apparecida et Baden Powell – 1977
    Baden Powell Canta Vinicius de Moraes e Paulo César Pinheiro – 1977
    Mélancolie: Baden Powell et Cordes – 1976
    Tristeza on Guitar – 1976
    La Grande Réunion – Baden Powell e Stephane Grappelli – Vol. 2 – 1974
    La Grande Réunion – Baden Powell e Stephane Grappelli – 1974
    Apaixonado – 1973
    Baden Powell Gravado ao Vivo em Paris – 1973
    Face au Public: Olympia 1972 – 1972
    Samba Triste – 1972
    Grandezza on Guitar – 1972
    É de Lei – 1972
    Le Coeur de Baden Powell – 1971
    Le Génie de Baden Powell – 1971
    L’art de Baden Powell – 1971
    L’âme de Baden Powell – 1971
    Estudos – 1971
    Solitude on Guitar – 1971
    Baden Powell: Carinhoso – 1971
    As músicas de Baden Powell e Paulo César Pinheiro – Os Cantores da Lapinha – 1970
    Baden Powell Quartet – Vol. 3 – 1970
    Baden Powell Quartet – Vol. 2 – 1970
    Baden Powell Quartet – Vol. 1 – 1970
    Lotus – 1970
    Canto on Guitar – 1970
    Le Monde Musical de Baden Powell – 1970
    Le Monde Musical de Baden Powell – Vol. 2 – 1969
    Aquarelles du Brésil – 1968
    Baden Powell – Márcia – Os Originais – 1968
    Poema on Guitar – 1968
    Baden – 1966
    Os Afro-sambas de Baden e Vinicius – 1966
    Tempo Feliz – 1966
    Ao Vivo no Teatro Santa Rosa – 1966
    Billy Nencioli et Baden Powell – 1965
    Le Monde Musical de Baden Powell – Vol. 1 – 1964
    Baden Powell à Vontade – 1963
    Baden Powell Swings with Jimmy Pratt – 1963
    Um Violão na Madrugada – 1961
    Apresentando Baden Powell e Seu Violão – 1959

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