Hugo Fattoruso-Y Barrio Opa.

Label: Far Out Recordings.

Composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Hugo Fattoruso, was born in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo on the ‘29th’ June 1943, and formed his first band Trío Fattoruso in 1952 aged nine. Sixty-six years later and Hugo Fattoruso is still involved in music and recently, released a new album Y Barrio Opa on Far Out Recordings. It’s the latest album from an artist and musician who has dedicated his life to music, and released an eclectic selection of albums. Y Barrio Opa is just the latest release from Hugo Fattoruso one of the biggest names in Uruguayan music. His story began in 1952,

Hugo Fattoruso joined the family group Trío Fattoruso as a nine-year old in 1952, and what was his first ever band, was together for six years. However, in 1958 it looked as if it was the end of the road for Trío Fattoruso. Nothing more was heard of the group until the dawn of the new millennia, when Hugo Fattoruso would reformed Trío Fattoruso in 2000. By then, his musical career had six decades and he was a veteran of many groups.

This included The Hot Blowers who were formed in 1959, when Hugo Fattoruso was sixteen. They were together for four years, until the band went their separate ways in 1963.

Los Shakers

Another year passed before Hugo Fattoruso and his brother  Osvaldo formed the four piece band Los Shakers. This came after they saw the film A Hard Day’s Night which starred The Beatles. They would heavily influence Los Shakers musically, and the band even copied the way the Fab Four dressed. 

Just a year after Los Shakers was founded, the band signed to Odeon imprint of EMI in Argentina in 1965 and became part of the Uruguayan Invasion of South America. When Los Shakers released their debut single Break it All later in 1965, the group was briefly billed as The Shakers. However, when they returned with their eponymous debut album in 1965 they were now called 

Los Shakers.

In January 1966, Los Shakers made their one and only attempt to break into the lucrative American market when they released Break It All. However, the album failed to make any impact in America, Los Shakers decided to concentrate on Latin America and especially the Argentinian market.

Ten months later, in November 1966, Los Shakers released Break It All, which was their breakthrough album. By the, Los Shakers were being referred to in the press as “The South American Beatles.” This was what Hugo and Fattoruso had been working towards. They may have achieved their goal, but some critics believed that they were merely copying The Beatles, and their music lacked originality.

These comments were ironic, because when Los Shakers released their third album La Conferencia Secreta del Toto’s Bar in 1968, it was hailed as the Latin American equivalent of Sgt.  Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. However, Los Shakers’ record label neither liked nor approved of the new sound, and failed to promote the album. For Los Shakers this was the end of the road.


In 1969, Hugo Fattoruso left Uruguay behind, and moved to New York where he founded Opa. They fused Candombe which is the traditional rhythm of Uruguay with rock, jazz, funk and various other Latin American rhythms to create an irresistible and inimitable Afro-Uruguayan sound. This would influence and inspired many artists over the next few years and beyond.

Before that, Hugo Fattoruso worked with Airto Moreira and played on  Fingers, which was released in 1973 and became one of the percussionist’s most successful albums. Three years later, in 1976, played on Flora Purim’s groundbreaking album. However, the same year, Opa released their much-anticipated debut album.

Seven years after Opa was founded, they released their critically acclaimed debut album Goldenwings in 1976. Buoyed by its reception Opa returned with their sophomore album Magic Time following in 1977. It was released to plaudits and praise and it wasn’t until 1981 that Opa realised A Los Shakers four years later in 1981.  Five years later, Hugo Fattoruso released his solo album Hugo Fattoruso with Opa’s fourth album En Vivo following in 1988. By then, Hugo Fattoruso was living in Brazil and had begun a new  chapter in his career.

As the nineties dawned, Hugo Fattoruso released his solo album Oriental in, but after that, much of his time was spent working with various Brazilian artists. That was until Opa decided to record a new album, Back Home which was released in 1996. This was Opa’s first album in eight years and was their swan-song.

In 1997 Hugo Fattoruso returned with his first new album in seven years, Homework. However, the highlight of 1997 for Hugo Fattoruso was arranging and working on Milton Nascimento’s 1997 World Grammy Award winning album Nascimento. 

Three years later, in 2000, Hugo Fattoruso reformed Trío Fattoruso, and they played together for the first time in forty-two years. Still though, Hugo Fattoruso found time to work on a variety of other projects.

This included his solo album Ciencia Fictiona, which was released  in 2004. After that, Hugo Fattoruso spent much of the next five years working with other artists and  collaborating on albums with Tomohiro Yahiro, Ray Tambor and Aska Strings. However, in 2011 Hugo Fattoruso returned with Acorde On and followed this up with Fatto In Casa in 2014. Despite turning seventy-one, Hugo Fattoruso was as busy as ever.

Hugo Fattoruso then jailed forces with Leo Maslíah recorded Montevideo Ambiguo, which was released in 2015. That was Hugo Fattoruso’s last release for the best part of three years. 

Y Barrio Opa.

The next album that Hugo Fattoruso released was Y Barrio Opa, which was released in 2018, and featured an all-star cast of Uruguayan musicians. This included Hugo Fattoruso’s son Francisco who plays bass on Y Barrio Opa. He’s a talented musician whose followed in his father’s footsteps. 

For Y Barrio Opa, Hugo Fattoruso wrote three new compositions and cowrote the other six songs. His new compositions were Botijas, El Romance del Sordo and Llamada Insólita. Hugo Fattoruso wrote Trenes de Tokyo and For You To Be Proud Albana Barrocas and they then penned Candombelek and Candombe Alto with Wellington Silva. Other tracks included the Hugo and Osvaldo Fattoruso composition Antes/Goldenwings which was originally recorded by Opa. It was joined by La del Cheche which Hugo and Christian Fattoruso wrote with Gustavo Etchenique. The other track on Y Barrio Opa was  Francisco Fattoruso’s Candombe Beat Funk. These tracks were recorded at the Sondor Studio in Montevideo.

Hugo Fattoruso was joined by Joe Davis the founder of Far Out Recordings, who oversaw production. He watched on as a rhythm section of drummer Tato Bolognini, bassist Francisco Fattoruso and guitarist Nicolás Ibarburu. They were joined by percussionists Guillermo Díaz Silva, Mathías Silva, Wellington Silva and Albana Barrocas who added vocals. Hugo Fattoruso played keyboards, added vocals and took charge of production. With such a talented band accompanying him, it wasn’t long before Y Barrio Opa was completed.

With Y Barrio Opa completed, it was recently released by Far Out Recordings and was  Hugo Fattoruso’s first solo album in four years. However, it’s been well worth the wait.

Hugo Fattoruso and his top class band take as a starting point for Y Barrio Opa, Opa’s original sound. To that they add Afro-Uruguayan rhythms, a healthy dose of funk, fusion, jazz harmonies, jazz-funk and Candombe drumming which comes courtesy of the De Silva brothers. They play their part in what’s a captivating, genre-melting album from Hugo Fattoruso… Y Barrio Opa.

It opens with the slow burner La del Cheche which gradually reveals its secrets as Hugo Fattoruso and his band play with a fluidity, drawing inspiration from Opa as  they combine elements of funk, fusion, jazz, and jazz-funk with Afro-Uruguayan rhythms. In doing so, this flawless track whets the listener’s appetite for the rest of this musical feast.

This includes Botijas which breezes along as the piano carries the melody, while Hugo Fattoruso scats and his rhythm section  unleashes rolling waves of jazzy rhythms. Soon, the band is in full flight, as they play with freedom, fluidity, speed and accuracy creating washes of melodic, genre-melting music. 

The carefully crafted Candombe Beat Funk is built around the Fattorusos. Son Francisco ensures the funky, bubbling and percussive arrangement swings before his father’s keyboards enter. These rhythmic movements play starring roles, but it’s Hugo Fattoruso’s keyboards that take centre-stage as he rolls back the years and steals the show as funk meets jazz.

El Romance del Sordo sees the tempo rise, as the rhythm section lock down the  groove. Meanwhile a myriad of percussion  is part of the backdrop as Hugo Fattoruso unleashes another spellbinding performance. This inspirers guitarist  Nicolás Ibarburu who steps forward and delivers one of his finest solos. After that, Hugo Fattoruso plays a flawless fleet-fingered keyboard solo plays a starring role, and he scats, as if he’s not got a care in the world.

The tempo drops on the cinematic, soulful and sultry sounding Trenes de Tokyo. As it meanders and shuffles along revealing its hip swaying, feelgood sound. Next up is Candombelek, where layers of shuffling percussion combine with exotic vocals that bring to mind exotic faraway places. Meanwhile, Hugo Fattoruso’s  electric keyboards sit back in the mix, letting the vocals take centre-stage. When they drop out Hugo Fattoruso’s then take centre-stage against the  percussive arrangement. The vocals, percussion and keyboards  prove to be a potent and successful combination. Candombe Alto is regarded as the partner piece to Candombelek, but is a much more explosive track with searing guitar, urgent Afro-Cuban rhythms and keyboards combining. Hugo Fattoruso plays with speed and accuracy as his keyboards climb and soar high above the arrangement and reaches new heights. 

Sci-fi synths and keyboards combine on Llamada Insólita as the rhythm section drop the tempo and the arrangement meanders almost lazily along. However, it’s the keyboards that are at the heart of the arrangement which features futuristic sounds and synths strings. Still, beauty is omnipresent as this melodic and filmic track reveals its secrets.

Antes is another new track which seamlessly gives way to a remake of Goldenwings, which was the title track of Opa’s 1976 eponymous debut album. The track where Opa combined funk and disco was a favourite of DJs and dancers and became a club hit. However, the remake ‘borrows’  and incorporates the melody to Summertime as the track heads in new and unexpected directions. This includes jazz, Latin and rock during what’s another genre-melting track.

For You To Be Proud closes Y Barrio Opa, and fittingly, Hugo Fattoruso’s keyboards play a leading role in this futuristic and filmic track. It’s quite different to previous tracks but shows Hugo Fattoruso’s versatility and ability to innovate.

Y Barrio Opa which was recently released by Far Out Recordings, is Hugo Fattoruso’s first album in four years. It finds one of Uruguay’s finest musicians returning with a carefully crafted genre-melting album Y Barrio Opa. 

The building blocks for Y Barrio Opa is the Opa sound, and Hugo Fattoruso add Afro-Uruguayan rhythms, a healthy dose of funk plus fusion, jazz harmonies, jazz-funk, Latin, rock and Candombe drumming. It’s a melodic and potent musical potpourri from one of the legends of music Hugo Fattoruso’s whose new album Y Barrio Opa is without his finest post-millennium solo album.

Hugo Fattoruso-Y Barrio Opa.

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