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Azymuth: Telecommunication (Craft)

A review of the Brazilian jazz-samba-funk fusion trio's album being released on vinyl for the first time in 40 years

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Azymuth: Telecommunication (Craft)
The cover of Telecommunication by Azymuth

Telecommunication may not be the best album by the prolific Brazilian jazz-samba-funk fusion trio Azymuth, but time has been a friend to it. And now Craft Recordings is giving it the 40th-anniversary treatment, issuing it on vinyl for the first time since its initial release in 1982.

This one features Azymuth’s original lineup of keyboardist José Roberto Bertrami, guitarist/bassist Alex Malheiros, and drummer Ivan Conti, with guest slots by guitarist Hélio Delmiro. It would be easy to dismiss Telecommunication as background music for cocktail parties—it’s exceedingly laid-back and favors dreaminess above all else—but a lot is going on beneath the reserved surface. Like the sophisticated electric piano solos on “What Price Samba” and “Nothing Will Be as It Was.” Like the toing-and-froing of Delmiro’s fingerings and Bertrami’s organ on “Estreito de Taruma.” Like the interplay of guitar, bass, and wordless vocals on the 7/8 samba “Country Road.”

Then there are the things you couldn’t have heard back in the ’80s, like how you can draw a direct line from “May I Have This Dance” to Daft Punk’s “Lose Yourself to Dance,” from its structure to its use of Vocoder. But the price of the vinyl is worth it just to shut your eyes and listen to “Last Summer in Rio,” a tune built on two chords that goes on for 10-plus minutes, propelled by a simple motif, a funky bassline and an elongated, snaking Delmiro solo. The song sounds like night on a tropical beach. You don’t want it to end.

Steve Greenlee

Steve Greenlee is the executive editor of the Portland Press Herald in Maine and a former longtime editor and jazz critic at The Boston Globe. He plays keyboards in the Maine bands Under The Covers and Sons Of Quint.