Philippe Baden Powell ‘Notes Over Poetry’ LP/CD/Dig (Far Out) 3/5

Brazilian pianist Philippe Baden Powell is none other than the son of samba-jazz great guitarist Baden and this is his debut offering for London’s Far Out label. There is a variety of settings, ranging from intimate piano trio to an expanded horn section, and five vocal offerings that include rap and take in wordless vocalese. Adding his inimitable drum licks is French musician André Ceccarelli who jazz fans will know from his work with vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater when she resided in France.

The music works best when it remains instrumental and combines funk-tinged bass with acoustic piano and Afro-Brazilian percussion. A fine example is on the busy, bubbling mid-tempo groove of, ‘Vamos donatear’, with horns entering. Another take on the funkier side of town is provided with, ‘Chica’, with electric bass and horns combining, and with Powell performing on piano and singing gently in the style of Caetano Veloso. Two other vocalists participate on the album and they include Paula Tesser who contributes Brazilian Portugese vocals on, ‘Recado pra você’ which is an attractive uptempo samba-jazz number. Belgian vocalist David Linx reverts to rap on the title track and this sounds somewhat out of place compared to the rest of the album.

However, he redeems himself with some tasty vocalese on the duet with the pianist on, ‘Hues’. Stylistically, Powell comes across as something of a Brad Mehldau devotee with Keith Jarrett another possible influence and the leader is gifted in communicating simple, yet effective melodies as on, ‘For you know’. Future albums would be better served focusing on just one or more stylistic variations, and ideally a separate vocal and piano recording would best suit the collaboration with David Linx. Otherwise, this is a promising debut and one that establishes Philippe Baden Powell as a musician to be reckoned with in his own right.

Tim Stenhouse