Azymuth ‘Butterfly’ LP/CD (Far Out Recordings) 4/5

Rio-based trio Azymuth have been together on and off for the best part of thirty-five years and with this latest recording have come up with one of their best all round albums in over a decade at least. They have returned to the grittier groove of their early Milestone albums and this ideally suits the band. The opener and title track is a tribute to keyboard legend Herbie Hancock and his composition, and they remain faithful to the original with subtle use of strings and lovely fender rhodes playing from their own keyboard maestro Jose Roberto Bertrami. However, it is the mid-tempo groove of ‘Os cara la’ and ‘Triagem’ that typify the Azymuth sound and the former may become a dancefloor favourite with its fine funk bass from Malheiros and use of vocoder vocals. Where Azymuth have added to the original concept of the group is in the jazzy colouration of instrumentation as in ‘Caitutu’ which is a short samba with gorgeous flute, or the light and breezy folk-influenced ‘Meu doce amigo’. A percussion breakdown courtesy of the renowned Robertinho Silva is on offer on the brass-led ‘Avenida Rio Branco’ with Bertrami exploring on fender. The laid back mood of ‘New dawn’ rounds out a terrific recording and one that will rate among the finest Azymuth have recorded thus far.

Tim Stenhouse