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Live Reviews

April 17, 2007

By Jason Gardner
Webster Hall
New York


From the first song of their set, Ozomatli pumped up the crowd with their unique blend of cumbia, salsa, hip hop and spoken word, with a bit of N’awlins funk and Brazilian samba thrown into the pot. Everyone could feel the crowd jumping on Webster Hall’s wood floors and reacted to the band’s energy, with many calling out the words to the popular tunes “Como Ves,” “Cumbia De Los Muertos,” and “Super Bowl Sundae.”

The young trombonist showed his funky dance moves during an extended jam, and the band recognized his birthday early in the set with a groovy happy birthday song, complete with cake (shared with the audience). The band continued to delight with guitar and drum solos, before reverting back to their big sound. They sweetened the mix with a funky “Let The Good Times Roll,” accompanied by disparate instruments such as French horn and clarinet, as well as a type of throat singing.

The band highlighted a few tunes from their new album Don¹t Mess With The Dragon, such as the Spanglish-titled “Donde Esta La After Party,” an electric hip-hop/salsa blend containing infectious grooves and pure party music, and “Violeta,” a ballad for the soldiers fighting the current wars. They then returned to their 2004 album Street Signs with the crowd favorite “Saturday Night,” as trombone blasted over the spoken word. “Feo Feo” and “Chango” brought some old school Dominican merengue to the house, mixing it up with fast and slow tempos.

In their encore, a vamp on the song “Tierra,” Ozomatli brought the opening band Outernational back onstage to jam with them, then signaled the crowd to make a path and took the jam into the audience, playing everything from Brazilian samba from the Rio school, to New Orleans second-line, even the children’s tune “Hokey Pokey.” The band members led the march around the floor, grabbed a few fans for a conga line, danced on the bar, and the packed house responded with phenomenal energy.