Demos (1973-1975), Vol. 1 & 2
In the two years between the group’s formation and its historic 1975 eponymous debut, Rio de Janeiro’s Azymuth was busy workshopping the jubilant, groove-intensive music that would become its signature sound. These previously unheard tapes, which stand up in terms of audio quality and risk-taking spirit, find keyboardist Jose Roberto Bertrami, bassist Alex Malheiros, drummer Ivan “Mamão” Conti, and percussionist Ariovaldo Contesini bringing Brazilian rhythmic and textural elements and American jazz-fusion aesthetics into bracing contact. These instrumental tracks have a greasy funk energy and buoyant melodicism reminiscent of Stevie Wonder, with the harmonic ambition and richly varied keyboard palette one associates with Joe Zawinul or Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters. It’s also music ripe for the picking by remixers, hip-hop DJs, and other stylistic heirs—and an indispensable addition to an already hefty catalogue.