Monday, October 30, 2006


I will focus on just one group who, different to many others, have 2 not indifferent qualities: the first is that of always evolving during the 30 years of activity, maybe even creating, sounds that have become contemporary and, every time, innovative; the second, that appears to contradict the first, is that of always maintaining, whatever happened, their very own original sound. This group, formed in Rio during the 70’s, is called Azymuth. Reunited after many collaborations with various Brazilian musicians during the sixties, they were initially called ‘Grupo Selecao’, even if they also made a few recordings with the same line up under the name ‘Som Ambiente’. The definitive name came about officially in 1973 during the recording of the soundtrack ‘O Fabuloso Fittipaldi’ by the brothers Marcos and Paolo Sergio Valle, created for a documentary about the famous Formula 1 driver where, from the piece entitled “Azymuth” contained on this soundtrack, they took the name of which they are still identified even today. Ivan Conti ‘Mamão’ (drums and voice), Alex Malheiros (Baixo and voice) and Josè Roberto Bertrami (Teclados and voice) create a very typical sound that, breaking away from the classic Bossa Nova or even Samba from that period that they re-baptized ‘Crazy Rhythm’, was characterised by little instrumentation: and electric Rhodes piano and some synths, bass, drums and Brazilian percussion like the Ciuca, Berinbau or Tamburim that were used only on the first three records, in fact after a few years their percussionist died in an accident and after that they were never used any more, in memory to their friend to whom they were very close. Their true success in Brazil started in 1975 when the piece “Linha Do Horizonte” was used for a very famous soap opera then in 1976 they published another album and, in 1977, participated (the only Brazilian group to do so up until that moment) at the Montreaux Jazz Festival which opened the market to the European and American markets. In 1979, thanks also to the feedback obtained at the festival, they signed a contract with Milestone / Fantasy records (an historical American label that was used to signing up all those groups of a jazz flavour with tendencies towards Fusion or Jazz Funk) and the road was opened for their definitive consecration for Europe and America. “Light As A Feather” is the album that made them known to all and thanks to pieces like “Jazz Carnival” made them enter, apart from the dancefloors in places like Japan also, into the Guinness Book Of Records as the first Brazilian group programmed on the American radio stations for an entire year! In the eighties there followed other albums on which they changed formation and even labels, then, to follow, they went back to their original line up. Now, after thirty years and more than 15 albums, they celebrate this prestigious milestone with a European Tour that, In November, touched Italy also… In 1997 the English label Far Out, very in touch with the quality electronic and jazzy sounds, thought well of also having Azymuth as part of their stable alongside Marcos Valle (another giant of 60’s Brazilian music) for all those DJ’s and producers who are now lighting up our electronic nights by creating, at the end of the nineties together with their colleagues from Compost, this new Germanic or Anglo-Brazilian sound! There are many, in fact, collaborations that Azymuth have done or are currently doing with this new generation of producers because deep basses and 12 finger Rhodes chords has been part of their sound for years and they amalgamate perfectly to all these ‘nu productions’ and contribute towards the growth of this new sound. Those with 4 Hero, Seu Jorge and Natures Plan are just a few of these collaborations that we can define as ‘modern’ and if in them there maybe wasn’t the contribution of the ‘Crazy Sound’ of Azymuth we couldn’t begin to imagine what might have happened… The albums recorded on Far Out are “Before We Forget”, “Partido Novo” and the latest “Brazilian Soul” where Azymuth, to celebrate their thirty years, also involve high calibre musicians such as Roberto Menescal, Emilio Santiago, Marcio Lott, Fabiola, Ze Carlos and Leo Gandleman and where, in my opinion, the sound is truly incredible because it forges the ‘Brasileira’ soul with the sounds of today’s dancefloors, also the old generation with the new. Well, this focus on one of the most innovative groups on the Brazilian scene ends here: now, as always, over to you to begin searching! Peace.

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