- Ozomatli is a Latin funk, hip-hop group with current members Wil-Dog Abers (bass, background vocals), Ulises Bella (saxophone, clarinet, requinto jarocho, keyboard, melodica and background vocals), Mario Calire (drums), Raúl “El Bully” Pacheco (guitar, tres, jarana, lead vocals), Justin “El Niño” Porée (percussion, rap vocals), Asdru Sierra (trumpet, keyboard, lead vocals), Jiro Yamguchi (tabla, percussion, background vocals).
- Ozomatli is a seven to ten piece band that originated in Los Angeles showcasing their voice and sound as citizens of the world. The core members of the band, Sierra, Pacheco, Porée, Abres, Yamaguchi and Bella, met through their affiliation with the Peace and Justice Center of Los Angeles and formed the band in 1995.
- In Ozomatli’s early days they played at local protests, community activist events and city fundraisers. They eventually were named U.S. State Department Cultural Ambassadors.
- Ozomatli’s name comes from the Nahuatl word for the Aztec astrological symbol of the monkey. The symbol of the monkey stands for the god of dance, fire, the new harvest and music.
- After making a name for themselves on the club circuit, the band released their self-titled debut in 1998. The album peaked at #4 on Billboard Heatseekers chart.
- On September 11, 2001 Embrace the Chaos was released. Although many other performers cancelled their concerts during this time of the distress in the nation, Ozomatli continued to perform and gain recognition. The group stood strong in the rising anti-war movement and to their commitment to social justice and progressive politics.
- Ozomatli was nominated for and won a 2001 Grammy Award for Embrace the Chaos for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album.
- Embrace the Chaos reached #1 on Billboards Latin Pop and Top Latin Albums chart as well at #2 on the Heatseekers chart.
- The 2004 release of Street Signs blended musical styles of many cultures. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album. Street Signs also reached #2 on Billboards Latin Albums, Latin Pop Albums and Heatseekers charts.
- Celebrating the group’s tenth anniversary, in 2005, they released a concert CD, Live at the Fillmore.
- Don’t Mess with the Dragon was released in 2006 and moved their sound away from the Latin style and more toward the R&B and rock riffs that the original group had focused on. The album made it to The Billboard 200 chart at #154.
- Ozomatli returned to the studio and worked with producer Tony Berg for Fire Away in 2010. Tony Berg is known for capturing the essence of live music and they achieved it on the album.
Ozomatli (1998), Embrace the Chaos (2001), Street Signs (2004), Live at the Fillmore (2005), Don’t Mess with the Dragon (2007), Fire Away (2010)
Awards and Recognition
- 2001 Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album, Embrace the Chaos
- 2002 performance at the award winning Berkshire Mountain Music Festival
- 2004 Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album, Street Signs
- Has performed four times at South by Southwest
- Has performed at Bonnaroo in 2005, 2008 and is scheduled to perform in 2010
- Opening act on the 2005 Jam Cruise 3
- Headlined the 2008 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
- Supported O.A.R.’s 2008 All Sides tour