Azymuth Drummer Ivan "Mamão" Conti Dies at 76

The co-founding member of the vaunted Brazilian trio worked with Madlib, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Adrian Younge and more

Photo: Far Out Recordings (Twitter)

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Apr 18, 2023

Ivan "Mamão" Conti — the founding drummer and percussionist of Brazilian jazz-funk trio Azymuth — has died. News of Conti's passing was shared today by his record label, Far Out Recordings, though a cause of death was not revealed. He was 76.

Calling Conti "a musical icon" who was "amongst the greatest drummers in history," Far Out Recordings wrote in tribute, "Ivan was a joyous, kind hearted, hilarious and immensely charismatic man. He had time for everybody and thrived off the love of his family, friends, fellow musicians and fans, which he reciprocated through his music, his warmth and generosity."

"He approached playing and making music with a childlike sense of openness and a truly infectious joy and he will live on through his work with Azymuth, his solo projects and the countless recordings he worked on with other artists in Brazil and around the world."

Conti founded what would become Azymuth alongside keyboardist Jose Roberto Bertrami and bassist Alex Malheiros in the early 1970s, performing covers as Grupo Seleção. The trio would release their debut as Azymuth, titled Azimüth, in 1975.

Azymuth's fusion of jazz, soul, funk, música popular brasileira and bossa would later be remixed by the likes of 4hero, Roni Size, Zed Bias, Maddslinky, Jazzanova and many more. It would also capture the ear of record obsessives like Madlib, who teamed with Conti in 2008 to release collaborative LP Sujinho. Conti also released music as a solo artist, beginning with 1984's The Human Factor.

Azymuth's most recent album is 2020's Jazz Is Dead 4, recorded with Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest for their titular label. Last year, Conti and Melheiros contributed to Ron Trent's What Do the Stars Say to You.

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