Badi Assad Biography
Verde - her debut album on edge music.
Green stands for the forest. Green stands for Brazil. Green stands for photosynthesis. Green stands for wood that's still damp - in other words, it stands not for a product, but for a process. Green is wonderful. Green is hope and green is harmony.
When you observe the rain forest from a distance, you see perfect harmony. Only when you get closer you notice the various shades of green. I think this CD has similar features. There's an overriding sense of a color, but each piece has a different shade.
With Verde, her first solo album in six years, Badi Assad is back and making it clear that - alongside Zélia Duncan, Adriana Calcanhotto, Ana Carolina, and Vanessa da Mata - she's one of the most interesting and original guitar-playing Brazilian singers and songwriters of the new generation.
The title Verde - in English, "Green" - is an allusion to the myriad shades of green of the Brazilian rain forest. Badi reflects this variety in her music by setting no stylistic boundaries. She not only works with the immense wealth and heritage of Brazilian styles and rhythms, but also taps into the resources of jazz, classical, as well as contemporary pop and rock.
Badi Assad was born in 1966 in the small town of São João da Boa Vista (in São Paulo state) as Mariângela Assad Simão, but grew up in Rio de Janeiro until she was twelve. Her father Jorge, of Lebanese descent, had decided in 1969 to move with his family to Rio in order to be able to give Badi's musically talented older brothers Sérgio and Odair classical guitar training with Monina Távora, an Argentine pupil of the great Andrés Segovia. By the mid-1980s, as the Duo Assad, the two brothers achieved worldwide recognition and popularity that continues to this day.
Badi wanted to follow in their footsteps and, having first played the piano, took up the guitar at the age of 14. Within a year she had already mastered the instrument, was participating in - and winning - national and international competitions. Continuing her musical studies at the university in Rio was the next logical step.
In 1989 she recorded her first album, Dança dos Tons ("Dance of the Tones") which was released only as an LP in Brazil - in October 2003 it was then reissued internationally with extra tracks and a new title, A Dança das Ondas ("The Dance of the Waves").
Badi Assad then began experimenting more with vocal sounds, producing percussive tones with her mouth and integrating this element into her music - adding new, exotic sounds and expressions to her already outstanding guitar playing. She also began to receive opportunities to demonstrate her exceptional skills in collaboration with other artists - Badi was now appearing with such musical greats as Pat Metheny, Hermeto Paschoal, Milton Nascimento, and Dori Caymmi.
It wasn't until 1993 - the year she signed a contract with the pioneering audiophile label Chesky Records - that she truly entered the international recording spotlight. In 1994 the company released her international debut album, Solo, which was followed in 1995 by Rhythms, and then in 1997 by Echoes of Brazil.
With each new album her international reputation continued to grow. The American magazine Guitar Player ranked Badi Assad in 1994 - along with Charlie Hunter, Ben Harper, and Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine) - as one of the ten young talents who would revolutionize guitar playing in the '90s. Rhythms was singled out as one of the important recordings of 1995, in classical music as well as jazz by the same magazine.
Next Badi moved to Verve Records' "i.e. music" imprint (a label-partnership with Lee Ritenour) and released the album Chameleon in 1998. Here Badi went several steps beyond her previous releases, presenting mainly original songs she had written together with her then-husband Jeff Young. The album sold well worldwide and was exceptionally successful in Germany and Spain, where the song "Waves" was in the top ten for weeks, charting higher than a current hit of Madonna's at the time.
Three years of radical change followed the release of Chameleon: first, Badi suffered from a motor disability that made it nearly impossible for her to play the guitar, then she separated from her husband Jeff, and finally in 2001 she returned to Brazil, which she had left four years earlier to pursue her career in the US.
Recovered from her disability, settled, and working once again in Brazil, she completed a collaborative album with Jeff Young, Nowhere, which was released in late 2002. In 2003, again for Chesky Records, Badi recorded Three Guitars with the legendary jazz guitarists Larry Coryell and John Abercrombie, an acoustic-guitar album that received rave reviews - and the trio mounted a successful tour behind it in 2004.
Now Badi Assad looks again enthrall her fans with her new solo album (and her edge music debut recording), Verde. The repertoire consists of an unusual mixture of highly individual new interpretations of Brazilian classics and international pop hits as well as original compositions (two written in cooperation with her longtime musical partner Jeff Young). Thus Badi's own songs appear alongside the evergreens "Asa branca" by Luiz Gonzaga, "Bom dia, tristeza" by Adoniran Barbosa and Vinícius de Moraes, as well as Björk's "Bachelorette" and U2's "One".
Among the accompanists on Verde, standouts include Badi's bassist and co-producer Rodolfo Stroeter (who runs the ambitious independent label Pau Brasil in São Paulo and also leads his jazz group of the same name), percussionist Naná Vasconcelos, flautist Teco Cardoso (from Joyce's band), and the accordion virtuoso Toninho Ferragutti. And there's a very special guest: the great Toquinho - best known outside Brazil for his collaboration with bossa poet Vinícius de Moraes - who can be heard on the special guitar duet "Implorando".
As a guitarist of great technical mastery and as an artist with an unquenchable thirst for innovation, Badi Assad has - over her short career - attracted a growing legion of fans, critics, and peers throughout the world. With her dynamic, electrifying voice - reminiscent of Adriana Calcanhoto - she's now certain to win over many new admirers with the release of Verde.
"I think I have something to communicate to other people, not just the ones who love my guitar playing," she says. "I'd like to present my musical universe to all people - regardless of whether they otherwise listen to pop, jazz, classical, rock, or Brazilian music."
No doubt this multi-talented, multi-faceted Brazilian will soon be attaining that goal - and much more.