Formed: 1972 in Brazil
Styles: Jazz-Funk, Fusion, Brazilian Jazz
Azymuth is an electrified trio from Brazil that calls its music samba doido, which means "crazy samba." The actual sounds, though, are not so crazy: an intelligent, high-voltage blend of Brazilian rhythms, jazz, and funk with occasional acoustic episodes that gained a sizable following in the 1980s. The members of the group included Jose Roberto Bertrami (born February 21, 1946, in Tatui, Brazil) on acoustic piano and keyboards, Alex Malheiros (born August 19, 1946, in Niteroi, Brazil) on bass, and Ivan Conti (born August 16, 1946, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) on drums.
Classically trained and originally influenced by pianists Bill Evans and Luiz Eca (of the Tamba 4), Bertrami worked with Flora Purim and Robertinho Silva before meeting Conti at a Rio nightclub. Upon a visit to a bowling alley/club in 1972, they heard Malheiros and decided to join forces to form Azymuth. Their first album, the soundtrack for the film O Fabuloso Fittipaldi, was released in Brazil in 1973. After spending a number of years as sessionmen in Rio recording studios and touring South America, a successful appearance at the 1977 Montreux Jazz Festival led to a 1978 U.S. tour with Airto and Purim. A contract with Milestone in 1979 resulted in a long string of eclectic albums - some of which are still available on CD - that established the group in the American and European markets. All three members also recorded solo albums for Milestone (now out of print). Bertrani left the group around 1988, after which Malheiros and Conti carried on for a while with keyboardist Jota Moraes. In the '90s, Bertrami rejoined Azymuth for sporadic appearances, though their profile isn't as high in the U.S. as it once was.
-Richard S. Ginell (All Music Guide)