Philippe Baden Powell

Estrada de Terra (Dirt Road)

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In the early 2000s, Adventure Music became the indie label most likely to turn, well, adventurous world music listeners in the U.S. on to the best legendary and up-and-coming talents in Brazil. A wildly rhythmic multi-keyboardist who sizzles from the first lightning quick note of the opening title track, Philippe Baden Powell may be making his debut here, but he boasts a solid pedigree. He's the son of legendary Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell, from whom he learned the basics of composition, harmony, and improvisation. He later studied with masters like Sonia Maria Viera, Luiz Avellar, Antonio Adolfo and Eliane Elias, and in his 28 years, has played with a multitude of greats (Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, Seu George, Marcelo D2, et al). After the frenetic title track, he mellows out for the seductive, midtempo "For Her to Dance," a wondrous showcase for his lyrical, acoustic piano style. "Myke's Mood" takes this vibe into a multitude of moods for a spirited and soulful ride with Mike Ryan's muted trumpet. But keyboards are just the beginning for Powell, who spices the dark hypnotic chords of "Sango" with turns on the melodica and soprano sax. There's also a playful ode to his newly adopted home of Paris on the quirky and romantic "Rafaela's Song," which mixes piano rumblings with zippy mandolin runs. The most impressive element of Powell's intro to the world music masses is his effortless mood swinging, from crazy and energetic to graceful, low-key solo piano expressions like "The Saint-Louis Island." Estrada de Terra is one dirt road with a lot of unexpected and inspired twists and turns.

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