Ozomatli combines classic and modern Latino, urban, hip-hop, reggae and more. This Los Angeles band represents the city’s eclectic culture and has won several Grammy awards for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album. They have been named Cultural Ambassadors for the U.S. State Department, were the first musical group to speak at the TED Conference in San Francisco, and have performed for President and First Lady Obama at the congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 32rd Annual Award Gala. Defined by innovation, creativity, and putting on a great party that you won’t want to miss.
Ozomatli plays the Pantages Theater on Saturday, Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $19, $29, $35, $49 and available at www.TacomaArtsLive.org.
Brewing a vital concoction of Latin salsa, urban hip-hop, and jazz-funk, Ozomatli formed in Los Angeles in the mid-’90s, eventually settling on a lineup that included Raúl “El Bully” Pacheco, Ulises Bella, Jiro Yamaguchi, Cut Chemist, Chali 2na, Wil-Dog Abers, Mairo Calire, Rene “Spinobi” Dominguez, Justin “Niño” Porée, Asdrubal Sierra, and Jabu. After making their name on the local club circuit, the group made an appearance on the urban late-night talk show Vibe! and released its self-titled debut in June 1998. “Embrace the Chaos” was released in 2001, followed by an EP, “Coming Up,” in 2003. A third full-length, “Street Signs,” which featured a changed lineup (both Cut Chemist and Chali 2na, for example, left the group on good terms), came out in 2004 and subsequently won a Grammy. A concert CD, “Live at the Fillmore,” with an accompanying DVD of the show, was released in 2005, unofficially honoring the group’s 10thanniversary, and in 2006, “Don’t Mess with the Dragon” was released, followed by “Live from Soho” in 2008. The band returned to the studio with producer Tony Berg to issue “Fire Away, “its debut album for Mercer Street Records/Downtown Records, in 2010. Two years later, a surprise turn into children’s music produced Ozokidz. In 2014, Ozomatli delivered their seventh studio album, the Robert Carranza-produced “Place in the Sun.” While they played the festival circuit in the U.S., Canada, and Europe in support of the album, it was business as usual: The group seldom took time off, playing across Latin America and the Caribbean as well. In 2015, the band honed in on a new vision: to revisit their collective Latin music heritage through the lens of reggae and Caribbean music. They undertook a PledgeMusic campaign (and reached 153 percent of their goal) and entered the studio with Sly & Robbie as producers. Ozomatli also invited a large host of guests to assist on various tracks. They included Gaby Moreno, Juanes, Regulo Caro, and “Herb Alpertto.” The material included songs written by Selena, Café Tacvba, Juan Gabriel, Julieta Venegas, and Los Tigres del Norte, and rearranged tunes from their catalog. Entitled “Non-Stop: Mexico to Jamaica,” the set was issued by Cleopatra in the spring of 2017. (Artist biography by John Bush at allmusic.com.)