Ozomatli, one of the most ethnically diverse “worldbeat” bands
of this century, produces a sound that can be described as spirited
salsa-Latin-funk-jazz and hip-hop. Ozo’s synthesis of sounds is
backed by powerful lyrics that delve into politics as well as
lyrical poetry. Although they cannot be equated to any other band
as their sound is so unique, undertones of Santana as well as Los
Lobos and Jurassic 5 can be heard. Mike Ross, writer for The
Express describes them as a, “salsa band on steroids crashing Puff
Daddy’s studio to show him what real rappers sound like.”
The eight musicians encompass roots that range geographically
and musically. From hip-hop and funk to Indian table percussion,
their musical range derives sounds that span across the world.
Their instruments include everything from turntables and Indian
tablas to tenor sax and the Mexican guitar baja sexto.
“I saw them a couple years ago when they opened for Santana at
Red Rocks,” said Karin Parker a senior graphic design major. “They
were unbelievable in concert. Very animated and their sound was
like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Salsa rap is a sound you’d
think would suck, but they pull it off so well.”
The band, named after the Aztec god of dance includes members of
Cuban, Mexican, African American, Japanese and European descent. At
one time the ensemble featured Cut Chemist and Chali 2na currently
of Jurassic 5.
Ozomatli formed in Los Angeles in the mid ’90s and began playing
the ghettos of L.A. as well as Orange County and San Jose. After
gaining local familiarity, the band began touring and have not
slowed down since. Ozomatli has spent the last three years on the
road and have covered the U.S. several times over. Having been
together for nearly a decade, Ozomatli has experimented with their
distinctive sound for each album.
“I think we’re way better musicians this time around,” said
Abers of their new album “Coming Up.” “It’s a more sophisticated
record in terms of musicianship. I don’t think we could have ever
pulled off some of these things on our first record. We’ve learned
how to let go, how to practice listening. I never thought we could
sound like this.”
Ozo’s group of eight include Justin Poree, percussion, Kanetic
Source, rap vocals, Jiro Yamaguchi, percussion, Raul Pacheco,
guitar, Asdru Sierra, trumpet and lead vocals, Ulises Bella, tenor
sax, guitar, clarinet and vocals, Wil-Dog Abers, bass and vocals
and Andy Mendoza on drums.
Ozomatli will be performing at the Aggie Friday.