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Everyone Should Listen To: Azymuth - Aguia Não Come Mosca
By: Cameron Rogers
About time I did an article on an album I can’t pronounce.
Brazil in 1977 was a peculiar place. Deep in the throes of an economic upsurge known as the “Brazilian Miracle”, yet also under the thumb of a repressive military dictatorship headed up by Ernesto Geisel, it was a place of immense yet cautious optimism. It was during this flux period that three jazz-fusion upstarts, whose sound was emblematic of this optimism, started making a name for themselves in Rio de Janeiro.
Azymuth are a recent discovery of mine courtesy of my sophisticated flatmate. Jose Roberto Bertrami (keys), Alex Malheiros (bass and guitar), and Ivan Conti (drums, percussion) are three talented musicians whose jazz compositional nous has resulted in a series of excellent albums. Outubro, Azimüth and Som Ambiente are a few that take the cake as fan favourites. The focus of this brief article will be (surprise surprise) their 1977 record Aguia Não Come Mosca. This is appropriate as it is the first album of theirs I heard, yet also lazy as it is currently the only one I know in any real detail.
Aguia Não Come Mosca is a must-listen for any jazz-fusion enthusiasts. Clearly taking a lot of cues from their contemporaries Weather Report, the band forsakes ‘jazz standards’ in favour of a more funk influenced and keys heavy sound. This can be in a slow cooked style on songs such as ‘Tarde’, ‘Falcon Love Call (Armazén No 2)’, and the opener ‘Vôo sobre o horizonte’ (which sounds frustratingly like elevator music). While these cuts can be nice, they are only listenable when one is in a nonchalant frame of mind, otherwise they get dull very quickly.
There are two other styles that Azymuth employs on this album which, in my humble opinion, are far more interesting. The first of these two more interesting styles are what I will call a “Carnivalistic Style”. Ignoring the fact that “Carnivalistic” is not a real word - what this term suggests is that the music sounds like what one would expect to hear at a Brazilian carnival. Or at the very least, it is what one who has never been to Brazil and knows very little about it would expect to hear at a carnival. This includes the two hip-shakers ‘Circo marimbondo’ and a personal favourite ‘Tamborim, cuíca, ganzá, berimbau’, both of which have vocals. However, the song where this style reaches its zenith is the closer ‘Águia negra X dragão negro’ - a hyperactive 4/4 groove featuring some sort of stringed instrument (I honestly have no idea what this is) playing over the top. ‘Águia negra X dragão negro’ makes even the most rhythmically luddite want to clad themselves in the most glam garb and go nuts.
The final style that the trio use on this album is where they go “Full Weather Report”. These are the most traditional jazz-fusion sounding numbers, and in my mind make up the best material on the album. There are four songs in this style (not in order in tracklist): ‘Despertar’, ‘A caça’, ‘A presa’, and the title track ‘Aguia não come mosca’. The former two songs in this list, ‘Despertar’ and ‘A caça’, are groovy numbers that would not sound out of place in a 70s cop drama. These tracks have groove and a smooth jazz finish that are a perfect accompaniment for walking down a sunny boulevard. However, the two winners from this album are ‘A presa’ and ‘Aguia não come mosca’, with the latter standing out in particular. The groove and musicianship on these songs is in its own category, showing the band at their tightest. They also have an excellent “clean finish” sound on each of their instruments. I can already tell you that both of these songs will be my first picks for the summer soundtrack.
This album should be on the top shelf of any jazz-fusion enthusiast. It is in equal parts smooth, groovy, and ecstatic - and has something for all of the family. I recommend this album for anyone that wants the full Brazilian experience.