Badi Assad – Chameleon

Badi Assad

Brazilian artist gets worldwide release

Guitarist, singer, songwriter, and percussionist Badi Assad (pronounced Bah-Jee’ Ah-Sabj ‘ ) makes her worldwide i.e. Music debut with Chameleon. With an exotic mixture of influences that include world, pop, jazz, and flamenco Badi transcends traditional styles of her native Brazilian music with ethnic sounds from around the world, successfully forging an exhilarating genre of music that defies categorization. Badi’s diverse creativity goes far beyond her flexible capabilities as a performer.

She also co-produced the album and co-wrote nine of its twelve songs. Also featured on Chameleon are songs by Milton Nascimento, Vitale Farias, and George Madison.

Chameleon is also a platform for Assad’s extraordinary voice. Performing here in English and Portuguese, she possesses a voice that is both fluid and lilting, perfectly pitched and elegantly controlled. Framing Badi’s spirited vocal portraits is her astonishing guitar playing. Echoing the talent and critical acclaim of her brothers Sergio and Odair, world class guitarists known as “Duo Assad,” Badi draws from virtually every style and culture of music.

From pop and jazz to classical, Brazilian to African, the world is her palette and the listener’s imagination the canvas. Well-known for her talents as a “instrumental juggler” of sorts, Assad performs further ambidextrous feats on Chameleon. Creating richly textured sounds simultaneously with voice, guitar, and various percussion instruments; as heard on “Rhythms of the World”, has become a Badi trademark. On the song “Waves” she at once performs liquid vocal passages, a marimba solo with the left hand, and maintains a syncopated guitar pattern with the right hand.

On her major label debut, Badi steps far beyond the solo approach of her previous independent releases. Surrounded by talent from both sides of the equator, she creates a sonic tapestry that to quote the albumn’s opening track leaves listeners “Hearing the rhythms of the world”. Among the distinctive instrumentalists who contribute to the unique sound of Chameleon are fellow South Americans Alex Acuna and Cassio Duarte on percussion, Chilean flutist Viviana Guzman, Afro-Mexican bassist Abraham Laboriel, Australian didgeridoo player Steven Kent, and from North America, drummer Hilary Jones and guitarist Lee Ritenour.

Another dimension of Badi’s formidable musical skills revealed on Chameleon, is the artist’s songwriting talent. The album’s lyrics explore the physical, emotional, ecological, and spiritual connections in our lives. ‘For example,” Badi elaborates, “‘Naio Naio’ illustrates how mankind is not taking care with nature and is losing its connection with the planet. The lyrics to ‘Waterfall’ are like man’s unconscious spirit talking to his conscious mind coaxing him to be less rigid-less hard . . . more like water. ‘Rhythms of the World’ talks about how all colors and cultures of people are intrinsically connected and that we have a responsibility to integrate, not to build walls between us.

‘Flowing . . . Into Formlessness’ explores a man and woman’s love without walls or boundaries, ‘Naked, plays with the sometimes elusive bond that all woman share, and for me, George Harrison’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ represents the connection between me, the guitar, and the audience.”

Assad actually initiated her musical adventures on the piano, which she began studying at the age of eight. By the time she turned fourteen, however, she had moved her musical sights to the guitar. As a young student and performer she won many awards; performed with such luminaries as Pat Metheny, Don Caymmi, Henneto, and Milton Nascimento; and recorded her first album as a leader, Dacha dos Tom, which was released only in Brazil. As she gained wider exposure during the late 1980s, her standing as an international phenomenon grew. In 1994 came Badi’s association with the independent Chesky Records. Her first album entitled Solo introduced Badi as a potent force in the guitar world. Her international stature grew with the release of her second album Rhythms in 1995. In fact, Rhythms was lauded as one of the most important guitar recordings of that year. The album won awards from Guitar Player magazine’s Readers’ Poll for “Best Classical Album of the Year” (Guitar Player’s editors commented: “Not a classical album but played on classical guitar . . . close enough!’). In addition, she was also voted “Best Acoustic Fingerstyle Player” by Guitar Player magazine editors.

The music on Chameleon is largely acoustic and truly organic. On “Rhythms of the World” the echo on Badi’s voice is created not by electronic devices, but by the artist herself. “We do use some special effects on the album, but only as a means to enhance the texture of certain passages,” she says. Chameleon takes listeners on a sonic journey. ‘this album for me is like an interactive mini-movie, I supply the soundtrack and each listener gets to conjure up their own images” Assad reflected. In Badi’s musical ecology, lyrics play an important role in reminding us of our bond with nature, the elements, and ourselves. All of this seems a natural reflection for an artist whose native country can comfortably celebrate the world’s largest rainforest and the unchecked cosmopolitan landscape of Sao Paulo, the world’s largest geographic city.

Badi Assad is more than a Brazilian singer, more than an accomplished guitarist from a talent-rich family, more than an important new artist for the world’s music. Badi communicates with an intimate strength and a natural air that has drawn hundreds of thousands of music fans from around the world close to her music. According to the Los Angeles Times, Assad “redefines solo [guitar] performance! Revelatory, a brilliant display of innovation, Imagination, and skill . . . almost hypnotically compelling!”

Chameleon Will be Available in April 1998.