Willie Bobo was an excellent musician and producer who made a butt load of awesome tunes that most people don’t know about.
This is one of them.
I don’t go out to see bands that often…at least not as often as I should. So when I got invited to check out the house band: Ozomatli at Club Dragonfly back in the late 90′s, I almost didn’t go.
Luckily it was a couple of hot girls who invited me, so I ended up going anyways. I had no idea who Ozomatli was and, if nothing else, I figured if I’d just sat through the band I might get some action.
Well, I never got any action since the girl I was hitting on wouldn’t stop bringing up her ex-boyfriend. But what I witnessed on stage that night was nothing short of magic. It’s only happened a few times in my life, where you see a group perform and say to yourself “Holy Shit! These guys are going to be big!” I think the only other occasion was seeing the early incarnation of the Black Eyed Peas…pre-Fergie.
I even bought a CD right then and there.
Let me break Ozo’s set down for you. The house lights go down, the house DJ shuts off the music and the band begins to play. But not on stage. No, the band starts off on the back patio. Every member is playing a horn, banging a drum or shaking a shaker. The whole group winds it’s way though the club, through the crowd to the stage as they play before they all take their places and explode into their first song. They play an amazing set of pure Los Angeles Latin sounds, then make their way back out into the crowd where they form a drum circle of sorts and keep playing for another song or two with the whole crowd going nuts around them. What’s even better is that I’ve seen them numerous times over the past ten years and they still do the crowd thing.
That only makes me love them more.
The band takes their name from the Aztec god of dance, fire, the new harvest and music…which is fitting considering their multi racial line up and sound. Originally formed to play at a labor protest, the band took in all the sounds of Los Angeles: Hip hop, Latin, rock, reggae, funk, salsa and cumbia to name a few.
If LA needed a band as diverse as it was, Ozomatli was it.
The six core members of the band are Asdru Sierra (lead vocals, trumpet), Raul Pacheco (lead vocals, guitar, tres, jarana), Justin Poree (rap vocals,percussion), Wil-dog Abers (bass, backing vocals), Jiro Yamaguchi (tabla, percussion, backing vocals) and Ulises Bella (sax, clarinet, requinto jaracho, keyboards, backing vocals). (Thanks WIKI!) From album to album though, the lineup fluxuates from anywhere from seven to ten members, with members and elements added and subtracted like a tide.
The line up I got to see in the beginning included Jurassic 5 members Chali 2-Na and Cut Chemist…both of whom left after the first album to pursue J5 related requirements. But even with the loss or gain of musicians, the band’s tone remained the same. They still rock the house, they’re still keeping up the social commentary and they’re still working hard to bring you the funk. And the members who leave all seem to make a return sooner or later. The band’s website says they’re touring with Chali 2-Na again this spring.
That’s saying a lot considering how many acts simply fall apart after the loss of a few members, or how often the members leaving do so under negative terms. But once you experience the energy that Ozomatli brings to the table, it’s kind of hard to imagine it being otherwise.
The CD I bought of the drummer on stage that night was simply a taste of the full length CD to come…simply titled Ozomatli. Filled with everything I mentioned above, it’s a party soundtrack for the kind of party where everyone wants to talk politics as much as they want to dance…and find a way to do both.
Even if you don’t like latin music, or listening to lyrics in spanish, this is the kind of album that might just convert you over.
Not everything goes well together.
I used to have a writing class sitting next to an odd girl with badly self cut bangs and Egyptian style eye make up who. often took to wearing a bright orange jumpsuit. She asked me if I wanted to come to her art performance once.
“What kind of performance?’ I asked.
She explained that she would be stripping naked and throwing herself on broken light bulbs whilst screaming.
I declined. She was acting particularly odd that day, swinging her head from side to side and squirming in her seat and I asked her if she was okay.
“Oh, yeah…” she trailed off, staring into space “I smoked crack and speed before I came to class. I like the combination”
I laughed at first, before realizing that she wasn’t joking. But for many years, most of the major record labels made a similar mistake.
It wasn’t until the nineties that the concept of the remix album appeared, probably because the whole concept arose from the newly emerged genres of Hip Hop and Electronic. And like most things that are just getting started, there were a lot of mistakes made and a lot of crummy dance remixes made. Most boiled down to the fact that the people picking the original source music and the remixers to go with it didn’t have a clue as to what they were doing. This lasted until around 2002 , when like a revelation from above the first of the Verve Remixed series was released.
What set it apart from similar projects was the pure genius of the formula. Take timeless classic music, and match it up with producers who love it. In an industry where taste is usually not looked upon favorably, this was something new, which brings us to the newest contestant in the remix world, “Motown Remixed Vol 1 & 2.”
The Motown Remixed Vol 1 was released to rave reviews in 2005, using the same surefire formula. Why wouldn’t the hits of Motown be even more fucking awesome if given over to the same hip hop producers who had been listening to and sampling it for years? It was a great record and a staple for any party I played at the time. But the hip hop/soul combo seemed almost too easy…which is why I was so blown away by Volume 2.
This time…Motown took a little trip to Miami.
Gone are the hip hop or house beats, replaced by the frenetic sound of salsa. And for music that was already made for parties, adding the latin element just seems to crank the energy up to 11. The real standout here is the Miami Mix of the Jackson 5′s ‘Dancing Machine’ which you’ll find below. It practically grabs you by the shoulders and kicks you ass onto the dance floor.
Other notable reworkings are the Jr Walker All Stars classic ‘Shotgun’ remixed by Los Amigos Invisibles, which really draws out the funk nicely, and the amazing version of Smokey Robinson’s ‘Being With You’… remixed by Eric Bodi Rivera and reunited with Smokey’s spanish language vocals (I had no idea he had done this until now), now called ‘Aqui Con Tigo.’ Pure magic.
Check out the official site HERE to listen to the whole album. It’s really something else.
So if you like Motown (even if you’re a purist) and you like a little latin in your party, grab this for your collection. It’s two great tastes that taste great together.
Billy brought over Serato to my Loft the other day and it was every bit as awesome as I thought it could be…therefore cementing my desire to finally switch over to the digital realm of DJing.
To be honest, I’ve fought it as long as I could.
I was getting used to being stared at as I wheeled my gear into a gig and people saw only vinyl.
“Are you playing real records?” they’d ask. And I’d nod.
“Wow…do they even make them anymore?” I’d nod again, then have to listen to some story about records they used to have while I ty to get everything wired.
But vinyl always seemed better to me. Maybe it’s the sound quality, maybe it’s the substantial feel (better than CDs), but most of all it’s because there is music out there that simply doesn’t get released in any other format.
Usually these are just singles, remixes or blends…and eventually someone converts them to digital formats for DJ usage. But for the most part, they remain out of all public knowledge…and I find that kind of sad.
How does that help anyone?, let alone the music?
Take Los Hermanos Latinos for example. I picked up the first of these 12″ singles a few years back and it instantly became a crate staple. The kind of music that would guarantee dance floor booty-shaking no matter where you dropped it. Since then, three more volumes have dropped and each one has been awesome in it’s own right.
Not much information is floating around about these records, which is usually how it goes in these cases, but they appear to be a side collaboration project between Will Holland (AKA Quantic) and Miles Cleret of Soundway Records. The formula is simple. Take a great latin tune (Mexican, Colombian, Cuban etc) that most of the English speaking world has no knowledge of, and pump it up with some stanky hip hop drums.
It’s simple, but it works. In a lot of remix projects, the music gets so over worked that the original tune gets lost in the translation. But with Will and Miles at the helm, the original tracks really shine through.
You can pick up the wax at some of the better online record shops (most seem to be sold out), or maybe some of your local record shops (support em!). But, I’ve looked around online, and aside from the vinyl no one appears to be selling the digital tracks…they do appear do be freely shared though!
It may not count as a full album, but there are four other tracks out there for you to collect…if they really float your boat. Put em on a mixtape, toss em on your iPod, bring em to work!
And you’re welcome.
So my friend Brian went to this show at the Greek the other day. The big draw was the teaming up of Tommy Lee and Ludacris (I know…I wouldn’t call that a big draw either) as a promo for their new show: Battlefield Earth (nothing to do with Scientology.)
First they got there late and missed out on the open bar and free appetizers, then the show went on for a bit with Blue Man Group and the rest doing a pretty mediocre show (one of Luda’s boys came out in a Celtic’s jersey and was booed until he removed it), but the whole time the MC kept tantalizing the crowd with promises of a “huge” special guest that was coming out. Well, the end of the night arrived and the crowd was tense with anticipation. The curtain went up and the huge star walked out on the stage, it was…
Wait for it…
Lukas Rossi from Rockstar Supernova!
Brian said you could have cut the stunned silence at the Greek with a knife. People were not pleased, but kept rioting to a minimum. It’s like going to a huge dinner where they keep raving about their special dessert, only when it arrives at the end it’s a Twinkie with a little whipped cream on top.
See, the worst thing to have to witness is an artist that has everything going for them and then just can’t get it together. If you get the chance, get some good buzz going for yourself and get a chance to go big…you’d better be ready to go big. Like Carlos Santana for example! (See how I did that?)
After the acclaimed release of his first album, followed by an awesome set at Woodstock, people were genuinely interested to see what he would do next. So in September of 1970, Carlos gave them “Abraxas.”
Good move Carlos!
Word’s can not do justice to how much I love this album. Whether this is due to the amazing warm vibe that permeates throughout the record, or it’s sublime mix of rock, Latin, and middle eastern grooves. You get recognizable hits like Tito Puente’s ‘Oye Como Va’ and his cover of ‘Black Magic Woman,’ as well as great originals like ‘Samba Pa Ti’ and ‘Incident at Neshabur!’ (below)
Needless to say , “Abraxus” went on to become one of Carlos’s most popular albums. He rode the wave that he had created and took it even further than he had before…which I believe is the mark of a great musician. But the album also shows an amazing musical maturity for a band that was only a few years into the game, utilizing complex song structures and jazz arrangements in unexpected ways.
Waaaayyy better than Rockstar Supernova.
This is an excellent companion to any outdoor summer festivity, especially BBQ…maybe with a little spice.