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  Ozomatli Ozomatli


DOSSIER June 2003
by Mono Lo





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The God of dance is American

We, of Radiochango are very often very critical of American politics, but we do not forget that among the American people there are many who disagree with their Government policies. Some of these people are very vocal about it. Among those is Ozomatli, probably today the most socially committed band in the North American continent.

The band, who chose for themselves the name of the Aztec goddess of dance in the Nahuatl language is one of the few in the American musical scene to venture into radical multi racial fusion.

With its origins in the working class districts of Los Angeles, this band protests through their music against the harsh social contrasts and cruel inequality situations which are trademark of their city. The band was formed under the sign of protest, for its members first met in an occupied building which was being used as cultural center during the general strikes which led to the riots of 1995 in Los Angeles. They chose music among other possible forms of expression to achieve their goal of denouncing the injustice of the American system, police violence, globalization and American imperialism. Beyond their ideals, they show their commitment to real life in their performances at festivals, schools, union meetings, political demonstrations, etc. The group, which has been played all over the world never decline involvement in actions for social change. Actually, the contact with the streets and real action has always marked their career.

A cultural melting pot in its own right, the band has artists of several different origins: African American, Caribbean, Latin Americans and Asian. They represent the diversity of Californian society and the cultural contrasts of this huge frontier territory. The very names of the band members show the variety of their roots: Raul , “Bully” Pacheco, Ulises Bella, José “Crunchy” Spinoza, “Will-Dog” Abres, Asdru Sierra, Justin “Nino” Porée, William “Echo” Marrufo, Raul Catrorena, Kasnetic Source and Jiro Yamaguchi. Because of that their social mobilization they have achieved the sort of legitimation which goes beyond musical styles or subcultures and that few American bands.

This natural blend of origins and heritages is reflected in the diversity of the musical styles and references of the group. Ska, rap, salsa, merengue, Latino Jazz, Native American rhythms and funk are starting points for a fiesta of wind instruments and percussions. The band’s versatility and professionalism are obvious during their concerts, as the microphone goes from the bass to the saxophone, from percussion to guitar or from trumpet to bass. Very often the concert ends in drum and wind playing among the audience in a backstage or in the streets, until the energy is naturally exhausted until the next day. After three years of musical experimentation and having several times crossed the Mexican border, playing all over California and Mexico, Ozomatli releases their first album - named after the group - in 1998. This record brings them recognition in the US and abroad. A concert in Los Angeles with Rage Against the Machine aimed at expressing the people’s discontent during a convention of the Democratic Party in Septembe, 2000, was the starting point for the second record, Embrace The Chaos. The concert, organized by “Rehusar y resistir! took place in an open air stage in a festive and multiracial environment. Rage against the Machine was the first band scheduled to play, among astounding security measures that brought to mind those employed against anti-globalization demonstrations like those of Seattle or Genua. When Ozomatli’s turn came, the giant TV screens were showing the image of 15.000 young people protesting in unison against the corrupt capitalist system and the police. The policemen began to line up and throw tear gas. During the second song, a fight between two young men served as a pretext for the sound to be cut – without notice and without any attempt to mediate the scattering of the audience. Ozomatli decided to go on playing. About 10 minutes the police attacked with extreme violence causing panic and leaving about one hundred wounded, among them many shot with rubber bullets from a short distance. Ozomatli’s second album was released 6 months later with the title “Embrace the Chaos” and featuring participations of De La Soul and Black Eyed Peas. Since then the band seems to be suffering from stage bulimia, for they have played in all the main American cities, then in Europe, Asia, Latin America...always taking active part in political protests against social injustice. Ozomatli is one of the musical groups which best represents all the Americans “from below”.
It is not only because they like the band that stars of Latino music such as Santana, Los Lobos or Johnny Pacheco take Ozomatli with them in their tours. Maybe it is because they know that the band honors the name it has chosen. The goddess of dance goes beyond nationality, color and race. Ozomatli is a mestizo goddess.

Records [up]
Ozomatli   Ozomatli
   1998 Almo Sounds - Album

Embrace the Chaos   Embrace the Chaos
   2001 Interscope - Album
   buy it at iTunes
Coming Up   Coming Up
   2003 Concord Records - EP
Street Signs   Street Signs
   2004 Concord Records - Album
   buy it at iTunes
Live at the Fillmore   Live at the Fillmore
   2005 Concord Records - DVD + CD Live
Don't Mess With the Dragon   Don't Mess With the Dragon
   2007 - Album
   buy it at iTunes
Live from Bonnaroo 2008   Live from Bonnaroo 2008
   2008 - Live
   buy it at iTunes

Main contributions [up]
KCRW Sounds Eclectico   KCRW Sounds Eclectico
   2005 - Compilation
   buy it at iTunes

Carnaval Toda la Vida! Tributo a Los Fabulosos Cadillacs Vol. 2   Carnaval Toda la Vida! Tributo a Los Fabulosos Cadillacs Vol. 2
   2011 - Covers
   buy it at iTunes

News [up]
  12.05.2010: VI Caixa Sabadell ETNIVAL Girona 2010 (Castellano)
  12.05.2010: VI Caixa Sabadell ETNIVAL Girona 2010 (Català)
  06.05.2004: OZOMATLI presentará en Madrid su nuevo álbum STREET SIGNS (Castellano)

Forum [up]
  The Forum for Ozomatli

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