Ivan “Mamão” Conti (1946-2023)

By 19 April, 2023

I was very saddened to read Far Out Recordings’ press release yesterday announcing the death of the great (and I use the word advisedly) Brazilian drummer. As a fan of Azymuth since buying their seminal Light As A Feather album when it came out in 1979, I came to appreciate over the years why a three-piece group sounded so much more than a mere trio – because they were all such brilliant musicians in their specialist fields: José Roberto Bertrami’s scintillating, multi-textured keyboards rooted in one of the most rock-solid rhythm sections ever to grace a recording studio and a concert stage: Alex Malheiros on bass (now the only surviving member of the original group) and Ivan “Mamão” Conti, arguably as deft a drummer in his different way as, say, Jack DeJohnette, Sly Dunbar or Tony Allen. Despite his lasting legacy in the form of Azymuth’s own countless albums, the many other artists he backed (including Eumir Deodato and José Mauro) and his own creatively adventurous and rewarding solo work, it’s a sad fact of the artistic life that Far Out had to sponsor a GoFundMe appeal in 2017 to pay for an operation that the drummer needed. I forget whether it was his hip or his knee, but I’ll certainly never forget the contribution Ivan “Mamão” Conti made to modern Brazilian music.

I think it’s appropriate to print Far Out’s touching and heartfelt obituary notice:

Ivan “Mamão” Conti

16th August 1946 – 18th April 2023

We are devastated and shocked to hear the news that our dear friend Ivan “Mamão” Conti passed away this morning.

As one of the three founding members of Azymuth, in the year of their 50th anniversary Mamão leaves behind a profound musical legacy for which we’ll be forever grateful.

In our eyes he was up there amongst the greatest drummers in history.

As well as being a musical icon, 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 his 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.

Rest in peace Mamão x

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