Hugo Fattoruso ‘Hugo Fattoruso Y Barrio Opa’ LP/CD/DIG (Far Out Recordings) 4/5

Uruguayan keyboardist Hugo Fatturoso is probably best known for fronting one of the leading Latin-fusion bands of the 1970’s in Opa, whose albums have been re-issued previously in the UK on BGP. However, Fattoruso was also a key member of the mid-1970s band of Brazilian multi-instrumentalist, Airto Moreira, on such memorable recordings as ‘Fingers’ (CTI 1974) and ‘I’m Fine How Are You?’ (Warner 1977). This was important in showcasing Afro-Uruguayan and Afro-Brazilian music with significant populations of African descent in both Uruguay and Argentina being systematically wiped out historically, and this has indeed been a regular point of contention with neighbours in Peru, and in the case of Argentina, has been largely erased from the national history in schools. How then, would a brand new album shape up after all these years? The good news is that there is something for fans old and new. Hugo Fattoruso is not simply leaning on past recordings, but has come up with an evolving sound that borrows in part from the classic 1970s period, but builds in new elements. Little wonder, then, that his music has been sampled by a younger generation of discerning musicians and DJs from Flying Lotus to Madlib. The new recording is notable for the incorporation of Afro-Latin drum rhythms known as Candmobe drumming and that injects a whole new dimension into the music.

A number which makes reference to the transport in Tokyo, ‘Trenes De Tokyo’, is one of the most engaging tracks with that distinctive subtle use of the electric piano combined with percussion that marks out Hugo Fattoruso’s music. However, the leader does not restrict himself to electric keyboards and excels on acoustic piano on ‘Botijas’, which has more of a conventional Brazilian samba-jazz feel, complete with wordless vocals and extended soloing by Fattoruso, with both numbers featuring some lovely interplay between bassist and son, Francisco Fattoruso, and Tato Bologni on drums, with added percussion from the Silva brothers and Albana Barrocas. A percussion excursion takes place on ‘Candamobelek’, with an array of percussion and hand claps, with Fender Rhodes to accompany, while the fast-paced ‘Candombe Alto’, features Fatturoso on both synthesizer and Fender. Now in his mid-seventies, like Airto, Hugo Fatturoso is enjoying a new lease of life and, if this highly enjoyable recording is anything to go by, we can expect more music in the future which would be a great bonus. A very welcome return.

Tim Stenhouse