58. Boy Scout Samba

Posted on 10/07/2017

58. Boy Scout Samba

Baden Powell de Aquino, known as Baden Powell was a brilliant Brazilian jazz guitarist. The oddity of his name is due to the fact that his father was a keen supporter of the Boy Scout movement founded by Baden Powell (whose home in Kent I used to pass as a child). The Brazilian was born in 1937, just three years before the by now Lord Baden-Powell died. So they did just overlap in time, though not in style!

Baden Powell’s playing has lovely lines and is always worth listening to. He also wrote many celebrated tunes. His first big hit was Samba Triste, which as you can hear in this ancient video, is extremely vigorous as well as slightly triste.

That video shows him shorn of cigarettes. But his union with the weed, which sadly ended his life at 63 in 2000, was extremely close. This can be examined in the following video. It is a charming piece of guitar music but the video is chiefly a study of his cigarette, held

between the fourth and fifth finger of his right hand. This appears as an important part of his performance, as indeed nicotine was. It compares with Serge Gainsbourg’s Marseillaise (Aux Armes et Caetera) as a celebration of the cigarette’s power over musicians of the time. And also art: smoking cigarettes could be an art, as well as a nervous tic. Smoking a pipe or cigar could be noble.

The following Baden Powell song, Berimbau, is performed without the visible aid of a cigarette. It features mesmerising skill in the lower registers of the instrument.

This next tune is the well known ‘One note Samba’ performed completely solo and with great bravura:

This brief look at Baden Powell ends with a cheerful ‘cry‘ or ‘choro‘ from Italian TV. It symolises brazilian cheerfulness that even a sad style of music should be cheerful when its brazilian!

It begins with Baden Powell responding to the Italian MC with a short description and then intricate guitarmanship (and also a girl playing an intricate style on a ukelele sized guitar.


Had he been able to kick the cigarette habit, like Tom Waits, Baden Powell might still be with us. But he left some beautiful tunes behind.

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