The release of JID 004, Azymuth’s newest studio album produced by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammed, saw giants of the Brazilian jazz scene seamlessly collaborate with two legendary hip-hop producers to create something fresh, imaginative and beautiful. There’s a lot to be said for the collaborative nature of Brazilian music. From it’s inception it has been fuelled by intersecting cultures and their respective sounds. Centuries on, this spirit remains at the forefront of the minds of the brightest Brazilian musicians. I spoke to Azymuth (Ivan ‘Mamão Conti’, Alex Malheiros and Kiko Continentino) over video call shortly before the release of the album. It’s fair to say I was rather starstruck, blushing at my student’s Portuguese, but their warmth, openness and great patience whilst I tripped over my soft Rs and slightly-too-similar Ls, made for an enlightening and exploratory discussion of the music. I first ask about the creative process, how they all worked together in the studio. It’s incredible to imagine such titans of jazz coming together with top-notch hip-hop producers, and everyone I’ve spoken to about the album thus far has been struck by the effortless melding of samba, jazz and hip-hop qualities. About Ali Shaheed Muhammed and Adrian Younge, Kiko says: “I didn’t know their work yet, but researched it as soon as we were invited, and saw that Ali was one of the pioneers of the hip-hop movement in Brooklyn and Adrian is a producer who works with many movie soundtracks in California. I thought it was a cool idea, this concept of exchange between North American music, from its west and east coasts, and Azymuth, that has samba and Brazilian rhythms in it’s DNA. It was like Azymuth gave ingredients to complete the American producers’ vision.” Mamão continues: “They gave us freedom to do what we wanted, that’s very important, it’s a delight to work like that in a studio.” The life-blood of samba is the quest for freedom. With roots in Candomblé (a Yorubaland religion that survived through syncretism with enforced Catholicism, imposed on enslaved West Africans across Latin America) it has long been a vehicle for revolution, protest and cultural expression. Samba is a sound soaked in joy. Dancing and deafening bands are part and parcel, but the lyrics are poetic laments of struggle and saudade (an untranslatable word related to sadness, nostalgia and the longing for something lost or imagined). A particularly famous, poetic example is Clara Nunes’ ‘Canto Das Tres Raças’ (Song of the Three Races) which roughly says: ‘Nobody heard a sob of pain in the corner of Brazil… It always echoed… This song that should be a song of joy is a song of pain’. Enough to bring tears to the driest of eyes, this yearning is bottled in swathes of music old and new.