This disc is a departure from the other reissues in our Uruguayan music series. It’s not remotely in a psychedelic or rock idiom; it was not released on the mighty Sondor label. Yet when given the opportunity to reissue these “lost” sessions, we did not hesitate for a moment. This music is funky and jazzy, groovy and urban, even sounding like Fela (on ‘Goldenwings’ at least); it has the sunny feel of sweltering days on South American beaches, but it also has a heavy dose of the grittiness of mid 1970’s New York City.
There are connections to the great bands of Uruguay, of course: both Fattoruso brothers, so successful with their beat band Los Shakers, greatly admired the work of the much less successful Eduardo Mateo, Ruben Rada and their band El Kinto. Opa had their own style, and the critical acclaim for their recorded legacy would soon eclipse on an international level that of anything else from their native land. After coming to NYC in 1969, a regular club gig led to Opa becoming backing band for Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira (Weather Report/Return to Forever); they toured the USA, working on a sound that resulted in the “Fingers” album for the CTI label (1973), Airto’s most successful record. Things looked grim when Flora Purim, Airto’s wife and singer of the band, was sentenced to two years in prison for drug possession. But drummer and producer Larry Rosen invited Opa to record in his small home studio. They recorded nine demos with Rosen during 1975 (all but one of the tracks that give this reissue a reason to exist, the other being the band’s first demo recording from 1972). Included are versions of songs which would later be re-recorded the following year for Opa’s debut album for Milestone Records. Rhythm-laden tracks that range from the heavily funkified to chilled out, shimmering, and trance-inducing. A 16-page booklet includes band history and photos.