Asdru Sierra - vocals, trumpet; Raúl Pacheco - vocals, guitar; Justin Porée - vocals, percussion; Wil-dog Abers - bass, vocals; Jiro Yamaguchi - tabla, percussion, vocals; Ulises Bella - sax, vocals; Jose Espinoza - sax; Chali 2na - rap vocals; DJ Dez - turntables; William Marrufo - drums
Opening with the high-charged "Como Ves," in this concert Ozomatli specialize in self-described "music without boundaries--just music." Though given they are named for the Aztec astrological symbol for the monkey and the God of Dance, one thing's for certain: When Ozomatli's in the house, the room moves. There is no avoiding the call to dance when Ozomatli play, whether fast, slow and or all that. And you'd better believe it, because the "funky monkey" tells no lies.
At the time of this performance at the Hog Farm's Pig Nic at Black Oak Ranch, the band had released its self-titled debut album and was about to get hot. Forming within and around the immigrants' rights/social justice scene in San Diego and Los Angeles, Ozomatli is pretty much the go-to act when social protest is on the menu in the Southland and they have plenty to say about that. But it is their party, one-love spirit that makes them a favorite not only regionally but throughout the politically aware, multi-cultural segment society who also loves music--any kind of music. Blending jazz and funk with Latin and hip hop beats par excellence, it didn't take long before Ozo's deft blend of styles caught the ear of Carlos Santana who took them on his Supernatural tour. Since that time Ozomatli has grown its music and its message, but its concerns of police brutality and racial profiling remain as resonant in the present as they were when they joined against those causes in 1998. Members Chali 2na and Cut Chemist would eventually find success in the group Jurassic Five, but Ozomatli has dropped four albums following their departure, including 2010's Fire Away.
This performance from back in the day surprisingly immediate, as Ozomatli run down the super-charged "Chango," in between Indian-inspired sounds, the Cuban-flavored "Donde Se Fueron?" and a sometimes comic, sometimes serious social message. But at the end of the day, everyone knows the Pig Nic crowd at the Hog Farm came to dance, and dance they did, on this hot September day in 1998. So get ready for the dance: In the words of Ozomatli, "it's monkey time."