Azymuth

Spectrum

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AllMusic Review by

1984's essential Flame was an incredibly tough act to follow, but the excellent album that came after it, Spectrum, is nothing to be ashamed of either. This 1985 LP found Azymuth paying more attention than usual to other artists' songs. While most of the eight selections are Azymuth originals, Spectrum finds the combo interpreting two Brazilian standards (Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Song of the Jet" and Ivan Lins' "The Island") as well as Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." And interpret is definitely the operative word. These aren't the sort of knee-jerk, note-for-note covers that NAC stations were only too happy to play in the 1980s and 1990s; Azymuth really digs into the songs and puts its own distinctive spin on them. The melody of "What's Going On" is very familiar -- anyone with even the most basic knowledge of 1970s soul knows this classic -- but what Azymuth does with it is most unusual. In their hands, "What's Going On" loses its sociopolitical lyrics and is transformed into a Brazilian jazz fusion instrumental. A gem that people generally associate with Motown Records and early 1970s soul becomes relevant to the Brazilian samba rhythm. These performances of Gaye, Jobim, and Lins favorites explode the purist myth that Azymuth played pseudo-jazz -- the Brazilians do, in fact, bring a jazz mentality to those songs, as well as melodic yet rhythmic originals like "Areias" and "All That Carnival." Unlike jazz purists and rigid bop snobs, Azymuth realizes that being influenced by funk, soul, rock, and samba doesn't necessarily mean that you throw jazz considerations out the window and forget about spontaneity. Spectrum isn't quite as essential as Flame, but it's still an album that José Roberto Bertrami and his allies can be proud of.

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