Ozomatli

Thursday, Sept. 6; Pageant

A year or two ago, on an episode of HBO's Sex and the City, the protagonists returned several times to a little bar somewhere in Manhattan, where they obsessed over various relationship issues. On any given night at this heavenly bar, the live entertainment was Ozomatli. Strangely enough, nobody in attendance seemed particularly enthralled by the group onstage; none of the extraordinarily fashion-conscious and beautiful people was dancing, which seemed even more unbelievable than the fact that Ozomatli would be a house band in such an establishment. In real life, most cognizant human beings seem incapable of holding their asses still while this band plays.Ozomatli are students of such highly percussive musical styles as salsa, hip-hop, samba and a host of other Latin-based rhythms. They aren't concerned with duplicating what has gone before in these styles; instead, they let the rhythms inspire new approaches to get people moving. Driving, polyrhythmic and intense, Ozomatli are as serious about creating a party atmosphere as few have been since the heyday of Parliament-Funkadelic. As with George Clinton's crew, the concepts behind Ozomatli are deeper than just laying down the thickest, most powerful grooves on the planet. Clinton said, "Free your mind, and your ass will follow," though in practice he seemed to prove that it works best the other way around. Bob Marley put it even better when he said, "Who feels it, knows it." Ozomatli follow in these footsteps, combining political activism with passionate, joyful music. Their upcoming album, Embrace the Chaos, takes its title from the band's experience playing at a gathering that coincided with the Democratic National Convention last year. After one song by Ozomatli, police shut the event down and began dispersing the crowd with rubber bullets. This chaotic, horrifying action reinforced the band's commitment to true democratic principles. Musically, they're expanding their horizons to match.

 
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