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Live at the Fillmore – OzomatliMore Shine – Si*Se

Concord 2-2298-2


The mythical idea of America and its inhabitants being part of a patchwork quilt that brings together disparate pieces of fabric applies to the music of Ozomatli and Si*Se. Through a myriad of stylistic choices both acts represent their environments and influences, their ancestral past and One World vision for humanity’s future.

In the case of Ozomatli, the members’ Latin background bears a strong pull on the group’s sound, but it also displays exposure to hip-hop, R&B, rock, reggae and Middle Eastern flavors. For Si*Se, the music offers a nod to the vibrant sounds and cultures that emanate from its New York hometown.

On the CD/DVD package Live at the Fillmore, the 10-piece multi-racial, multi-ethnic band presents a strong case for its standing within the music community as a group that can deftly unify genres as well as demographics. The immediate sensation brought about by the opening track, “Dos Cosas Ciertas,” is that of turning the corner of a city block and entering a street party. That lasts throughout the rest of the album. Did I understand the lyrics sung in Spanish? No, but don’t tell my high school teacher that. It doesn’t matter, in the same manner that it doesn’t stop me enjoying Manu Chao, Mano Negra, Les Negresse Vertes and others, because Ozo’s salsa and meringue rhythms on “Chango” and “Como Ves” were enough for me to sing along and find my spirits uplifted by the sheer energy of dance music. “(Who Discovered) America?” presents some depth in the songwriting chops through its method of equating the promise of this land to that of a new romance… and the hardships and disappointments and joys that ensue.

Whether or not it was meant to notch up the intensity, the DVD contains several more songs as well as a couple of extended versions not heard on the CD. But what matters more than an overall length is that this is a concert document that sizzles, causing you to hear Ozomatli in its element. It’s enough to cause a little sunshine to peak through a cloudy day. And in this time of Mother Nature’s wrath, government fiascos, enemies with weapons of mass destruction and Big Brother knowing your every move, Ozomatli on Live at the Fillmore may not have the answer to every question but it sure as hell understands that the Melting Pot can produce one helluva tasty dish.

It may be the last thing the members of Si*Se (pronounced see-say) care to hear but More Shine is reminiscent of the early work of England’s Morcheeba, minus the mystery and trip-hop rhythms. Now, that’s not a bad thing nor is it a lazy act of mimicry. Also, singer Carol C. displays a similar blend of smooth soul and sensuality. While Morcheeba has gone in a more upbeat poppier directions, Si*Se maintain a solid rhythmic pace that’s so damn cool you barely break a sweat as you get wrapped up inside its grooves. Even the disco beat present on “Agua” resides more in chillout territory than beats-per-minute. The mindset of not being overbearing with rhythms is appreciated because it still has enough power to induce dance fever. The opening track, “Sometimes,” becomes the template that is built upon over the remaining 11 tracks. Mixing live instrumentation and DJ/programming work, the result blends electronica with jazz, R&B and occasional forays with Latin elements. The violin playing of Jeannie Oliver enhances numbers such as the title track and “Amiga” by weaving its way as another hypnotic layer in the arrangements.

While both Ozomatli and Si*Se view the music of the world as a part of a grand buffet of sound, what both artists have most in common is the ability to cause immediate repeat listenings.

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