Rapid Transit


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Rapid Transit Review

by Alex Henderson

In the 1980s, fusion had two things working against it. On one hand, you had Wynton Marsalis and his disciples arguing that fusion was pseudo-jazz and urging young instrumentalists to stay away from it. On the other hand, you had a lot of NAC radio formats encouraging instrumentalists to play elevator Muzak. But Azymuth weathered those storms. The Brazilian jazzmen didn't feel the need to become retro-boppers in order to prove their legitimacy, and they didn't turn into George Howard or Kenny G clones either -- more often than not, the 1980s were a productive decade for the group. Recorded in 1983, Rapid Transit finds them doing what they do best: a rhythmic yet very melodic fusion of jazz, samba, funk, and rock. José Roberto Bertrami, Alex Malheiros, and Ivan Conti were never jazz purists, but they definitely bring an improviser's mentality to lyrical offerings like "Somewhere in Brazil," "Afternoon," and "Make Mine Guaraná." Much of this album (which Bertrami produced) was soft enough to appeal to quiet storm formats of the 1980s, but none of the material is mindless or devoid of substance. While parts of Rapid Transit have a lot of quiet storm appeal, the album always has integrity and is never without a brain. Anyone who has spent a lot of time listening to Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, early Return to Forever, or Wayne Shorter's Native Dancer album would do well to give this a very close listen.

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