Artist: Azymuth, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Adrian Younge
Album: Azymuth JID004
01. Ao Redor Do Samba
03. Cat Jump
04. Fall Afternoon
05. Friendship Samba
07. Pulando Corda
08. Queit Storm
The fourth volume of Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s Jazz Is Dead series logically spotlights Brazilian jazz masters Azymuth after colleague Marcos Valle’s turn on JID003. At the same time, this convergence enables bassist Alex Malheiros, drummer Ivan Conti, and keyboardist Kiko Continentino to continue their every-few-years studio release schedule. “Apocalíptico” highlighted the series preview compilation Jazz Is Dead 001, and here it’s focal, a torrential groove that starts with a buzzing bass warning and increases in power until it abates quickly at the 9:30 mark.
Although none of the other seven compositions — all eight are credited to the trio and producers/arrangers Younge and Muhammad — is as dark or dramatic as “Apocalíptico,” it forecast this set’s tougher physicality in relation to Azymuth’s deep back catalog. That’s not to say it’s any less inviting. In a sneaky way, it also has the same subtly spirit-lifting effect as a lengthy conversation with a longtime friend.
Malheiros, Conti, and Continentino sound at home in Younge’s Linear Labs workshop of vintage gear, no matter how many elements — churning rhythm guitar, brass, reeds, additional percussion — enhance their intuitive interaction. That shines through everything, whether it’s the gentler “Sumaré” and “Friendship Samba” (the latter with a joyful skip that recalls the Light as a Feather gem “Partido Alto”), or more driving numbers such as “Pulando Corda” and “Ao Redor Do Samba.”
Like Younge and Muhammad’s other sessions, this sounds familiar and fresh at once, in this case a happenstance 2020 approximation of a mid-’70s Azymuth date if made in collaboration with Fonce and Larry Mizell (à la the Brazilian-flavored moments of Bobbi Humphrey’s Fancy Dancer, Roger Glenn’s Reachin’, and Gary Bartz’s Music Is My Sanctuary). “Samba doido” meets “sky high.”