Craft Recordings and Jazz Dispensary deliver more cool funk, but with samba magic.
Azymuth – Telecommunications – Milestone Records (1982)/Craft Recordings (2022) Jazz Dispensary Exclusive 180-gram stereo vinyl, 38:04 ****1/2:
(Jose Roberto Bertrami – keyboards, vocoder; Alex Malheiros – bass, acoustic guitar, vocals; Ivan Conti – drums; Aleuda – percussion; Cidinho – percussion; Doto – repique; Helio Delmoro – electric guitar)
Craft Recordings and Jazz Dispensary have released a 180-gram re-mastered vinyl from Brazilian samba/funk jazz band Azymuth. Formed in 1973 by Jose Roberto Bertrami (keyboards), Alex Melheiros (bass, guitar) and Ivan Conti (drums), the group developed a fusion-jazz sound with Brazilian accents. When they signed with Milestone Records, their debut Light As A Feather garnered critical acclaim (especially with the single “Jazz Carnival”). The hybrid mix of jazz, funk, soul and electronica with both traditional and modern Brazil motifs resonated in dance clubs as well. They recorded and performed for three decades, including solo projects.
The latest Jazz Dispensary/Craft Recordings exclusive re-mastered vinyl is the 1982 album Telecommunications. As Side 1 opens with a thick electric bass (Malheiros) and drum (Conti) laying out a slow funk groove, the journey begins. Bertrami shines on rhythmic, atmospheric organ runs, including exchanges with drums. Guitarist Helio Delmoro adds a classic early 80’s guitar line with fluid notation. Exploring electronic Brazil, “What Price Samba?” adds percussion to the fusion arrangement framed by synthesizer and the rhythm section. There are several descending chord shits. Bertrami’s solo on electric piano glows with warmth and there is a touch of vocal enhancement. The airy resonance is a nice counter to the tight in the pocket structure. With traditional ambiance, “Country Road” utilizes acoustic guitar and ethereal “vocalese”. The swaying jam captures the sultry essence of Brazilian music. Picking up the tempo, “May I Have This Dance?” Is quintessential jazz fusion. Bertrami’s riffs on vocoder are compelling and the relentless hooks and grooves give this a joyous resonance. This may be the trio at its apex of musical expression with a hypnotic repeat vamp.
Side B kicks off with a Nascimiento composition, “Nothing Will Be As It Was”. It is sprightly and anchored by Bertrami’s adroit keyboard skills. His electric piano solo is percolating and the layered sound is forceful. “Last Summer In Rio” epitomizes the relaxed groove of Azymuth. At 10:47, it is easily the longest track on the album. The rhythm is steady and the melody is hypnotic. Again, Malheiros and Conti are in lockstep. Delmiro returns on guitar adding texture to the jam. His solo is meticulous and captivating. Bertrami creates a nice counterpoint on keyboards and there is an additional touch of percussion (Cidinho). Feathery keyboard runs fill out the lush aural landscape. The group shifts back to fusion on “The House I Lived In”, buoyed by electric piano, bass and drums. There is an accessible feel to the number and the multi-pronged synthesizers are very effective. The final 1:13 consists of an organ “prelude” delivered with a hushed elegance.
Craft Recordings and Jazz Dispensary have come up with great addition to their unique jazz legacy.
Estreito De Taruma
What Price Samba (Quanto Vale um Samba)
Country Road (Chao de Terra
May I Have This Dance? (Concede-Me Este Dance?
Nothing Will Be As It Was (Nada Sera Como Antes)
Last Summer In Rio
The House I Lived In (A Casa Em Que Vivo)/Prelude.