Azymuth Fenix

Azymuth Fenix
7
Fenix seems a particularly appropriate title for Azymuth's first release in five years. The Brazilian fusion masters lost their keyboardist Jose Bertrami in 2012, but Fenix sees the trio — comprised of Ivan Conti, Alex Malheiros and new keyboardist Kiko Continentino — reaffirming themselves with the balmy, self-described "Samba Doido" ("Crazy Samba") that they've perfected for over the past 40 years.
 
"Villa Mariana" and "Orange Clouds" are two polished, easygoing confections that meander a bit (both surpass the five-minute mark) but cleverly avoid any "smooth jazz" clichés thanks to some inspired interplay and lush vocals, with enough bottom to avoid the soporific. Even if none of the ten tracks are truly "crazy," the more rhythmically potent dance floor grooves of the title track, with its slap bass intro, cosmic synths and infectious hand claps, the space-y disco of "Batucada Em Marte" (which begs for a re-mix from former Conti collaborator Madlib) and the deeply percussive "Corumba" are the perfect antidotes to oncoming winter blahs.
 
Fenix is another fine slice of refined jazz-funk from true veterans. (Far Out)