If any one artist could be said to encapsulate the musical vision, approach and overall sound of Far Out, it would have to be the late Azymuth keyboardist Jose Roberto Bertrami, who passed away five years ago today. Two years ago we ran this piece on our old blog, to commemorate the passing of this truly singular talent, whose contribution to Brazilian music and the innovation he brought to it cannot be overstated... We asked some of Far Out's DJ friends and fellow Brazilophiles to pick a Bertrami track of particular significance to them - no mean feat given the vast array of magical music that makes up his peerless back catalog. A chance to sift through the many delights of Bertrami's storied career is a rare treat and a journey we would encourage you to join us on!
Azambuja and CIA 'Negra Brecho'
"For those that have or about to delve deeper into Brazilian digging, the name to look out for on those more obscure sleeves is Bertrami…apart from what to any other mortal would be a huge body of work just with Azymuth, Bertrami is also responsible for some Brazilian music most beautiful arrangements with the likes of Flora Purim, Sarah Vaughn and Milton Nascimento… a huge gap will never be filled following his passing. RIP"
Azymuth, 'Linha Do Horizonte'
"I'm a long time fan of the band - I'm pretty sure some of the first jazz funk fusion albums I went out and bought were Azymuth Light as a Feather and Outubro after hearing the classic, and oft-sampled track 'Dear Limmertz' on a compilation. It was Bertrami's keyboard playing that drew me to the band, the way he worked the fender Rhodes, arp odyssey leads, vocoder and arp string ensemble, all sounds i often emulate in my own work - that richness of the way the keyboards work with the groove was a huge influence on me generally. If I had to pick a track, it would have to be "Linha De Horizonte" off the original self titled Azimuth album, which I was lucky enough to remix on Far Out back in the day, with a peanut butter wolf remix on the flip, one of my DJ heroes at the time. I remember being so blown away that I had that chance, and also blown away that Bertrami was cool enough to let people fuck with his shit - that he wasn't precious about his work, that he understood sampling and the value of pushing things forward. I feel like that reflects his own futurism and the forward-thinking side to Azymuth which is so unique to them in terms of Brazilian music history - that man was truly ahead, as you can hear in his music, and he'll always be missed -the music remains for eternity and the legend lives on."
Silvio Cesar, 'A Festa'
"Bertrami the definitive Brazilian fusion maestro, "A Festa" co-written with Silvio Cesar has all the trademarks of his compositional genius and supreme keyboard skills, lush voicings, judicious use of space, and a peerless sense of groove on this classic of funky samba soulfulness." (Listen to the tribute Patrick did in the wake of Bertrami's passing here.)
Shuya Okino (Kyoto Jazz Massive)
Azymuth, 'Dear Limmertz'
"I have a good memory of eating lunch with Azymuth, Joe Davis and Eddy Ramich in Zagreb 15 years ago. It was the first and last time to talk to him for me. Mr. Bertrami was not only great artist but also lovely person. This tune has had heavy rotation through out my DJ career. Actually it inspired Kyoto Jazz Massive's Substream."
Enrico Crivellaro (Volcov/ Isoul8)
Azymuth, 'Woodland Warrior'
"I am a massive Azymuth fan and they have always been an inspiration, particularly when we did the RIMA album with Domu. Bertrami’s incredible spacey keys were actually the thing that caught more my attention from the very first encounter with the group’s music. Instead of picking a track from the early part of their career I choose a personal favourite from the Far Out years ‘Woodland Warriors’…..those strings!!
Azymuth, 'Festiva Nativa'
"The classic Azymuth sound from this time. It was around 81 or 82 when my ears first rested on Betrami's work. Bertrami later influenced the way I listened to and approached music, even the way I looked at music. Yes, I said looked because you can see the array of colors in the music he created. The chords and sounds Bertrami used were warm. It made you feel like you were being taken on a ride to Brazil with just the right touch of surrealist color painted by his keyboard. Another great example would be in a song like Blue Wave from his solo album. With Bertrami and the masterful musicianship of Azymuth there are so many pieces of work I admire and studied that choosing one is really impossible. There will never be another Bertrami. For me Jose' Bertrami is one of the most influential keyboard composers of our life time. "
Jose Roberto Bertrami, 'Bye Bye Brazil'
"It honors and humbles me to be able to speak on such and amazing artist! I remember the Jazz Carnival from us beating it in the clubs of Chicago for many years, the 12"s of Jazz Carnival and Dear Limmertz are some of the hottest songs ever!! My favourite is Bye Bye Brazil, it's like our brother Jose knew what time it was, may he rest in peace and we'll see him again at the appointed time, in the Lord's Kingdom!!! Keep your soul in the hole!!"
Marcos Valle & Azymuth, 'O Fabuloso Fittipaldi' (OST)
"All I can say is I love the Fabulous Fittipaldi LP. Funky, fast, groovy, just like my VW Passat estate."
Joe Davis (Far Out Recordings)
Azymuth, 'Last Summer In Rio'
"Missing him always, my brother, mentor and teacher!"