[4 November 2009]
The “Afro Sambas” refer to the work of the legendary Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell, who released a number of solo and collaborative works under this title from the mid-1960s through to the 1980s. Notable among these releases was his partnership with songwriter Vinicius de Moraes, which resulted in the album Os Afro Sambas in 1966. Baden Powell was influenced as much by jazz and classical composition as he was by the sounds of samba, bossa nova, choro, and the Afro-Brazilian candomblé and umbanda, so it makes perfect sense to hear jazz arrangements of pieces such as “Canto de Xangô”, “Lamento de Exú”, and “Pai”. Guitarist Mario Adnet has previously released jazz versions of other Brazilian giants such as António Carlos Jobim and Moacir Santos.
On this release, he collaborates with Baden Powell’s son Philippe, an accomplished pianist. Their instruments are complemented by brass, woodwind, strings, a variety of percussion, and occasional vocals. The result is a triumph, as the two musicians produce large group arrangements that do justice to the original songs while also adding new layers of richness and complexity. As well as covering the original “Afro Sambas”, some of Baden Powell’s unreleased work is aired for the first time, including the beautiful “Canto de Yansan”. This is a wonderfully paced and orchestrated release with broad appeal.