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Ozomatli brings eclectic styling to Ojai audience
In addition to numerous live
gigs scheduled for June and July, Ozomatli plans spending a lot of time in the studio this summer,
working on the group's next record- ing: “Ozo-fied Volume 1: A Century of Mexican Classics.”
The new album, which should be released this fall, will feature pop- ular standards of Mexican music performed with a distinctive reggae edge, according to Ozomatli saxo- phonist Ulises Bella. And Ojai will likely hear some selections from
it when the band takes the stage Saturday at the Libbey Bowl. “We'll definitely be doing some of that,” Bella said.
Formed in 1995, Ozomatli has been a popular part of the live music scene in Los Angeles — and interna- tionally — ever since 1998, when the group released its first album. The band's “Embrace the Chaos” won
a Grammy in 2001 for Best Latin/ Rock Alternative Album. In 2004, the
“Street Signs” album would garner Ozomatli's second Grammy in the same category, as well as a Latin Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.
In addition to extensive work with a wide variety musicians in rock and pop music, the group has collaborat- ed with several orchestras, including the Boston Pops and the New York Pops, and has served as cultural am- bassadors for the U.S. Department of State.
So it's not as much a band drawing Ozomatli audiences these days as
it is the musical project that band has become, a creative energy that's taken on a life of its own.
“If you know the Ozomatli sound, it is influenced by everything around the world,” Bella said. The influence can flow in two directions, though, as evident in the group's social activism and its appreciation of music as a unifying force for families and communities. A 2012 release,
“Ozomatli Presents OzoKidz,” was devoted to music for children, and the band has been in demand for family-oriented OzoKidz concerts ever since.
“That was liberating in a lot of ways,” Bella said. “We approach our other music so much more seriously; it was good to be able to lighten up and relax a little with OzoKidz.”
Don't expect OzoKidz material Saturday, though. Bella said the band would be bringing two decades of
its most eclectic and compelling work to the stage in Ojai — a town in which he and his bandmates are far from strangers, he added. A former Ozomatli member, percussionist Mario Calire, was raised here in the Ojai Valley. And the group has per- formed before at Thacher School, where Ozomatli guitarist Raul Pache- co is an alumnus.
“We're really excited to be going back to Ojai,” Bella said.
— Bill Warner
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Proceeds benefit Community Memorial Health System

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