July 16 2004

MACUILXOCHITL: Five Flower,” the Aztec god of music and dance

By Francisco H. Ciriza

Alejandro Fernandez To Release New CD in September

Alejandro Fernandez has just finished recording his first new CD. The yet to be titled album is scheduled for a September 7th release. Fernandez worked with Grammy winning producer Kike Santander (David Bisbal, Jennifer Lopez, Ricardo Montaner) and popular Mexican producer Aureo Baqueiro (Natalia Lafourcade, Sin Bandera) at the Sony Studios in New York all this month to complete the recording.

Fernandez employed some of today’s hottest songwriters, including Gian Marco, Tres de Copas, Noel Schjaris of Sin Bandera, Reyli Barba Arrocha and award-winning Kike Santander.

The CD has not been Fernandez’s only endeavor recently, as he was recently in Los Angeles with Justin Timberlake and Ashanti when McDonald’s Corporation announced that that they were welcoming Alejandro into the McDonald’s family of artists. Announcements regarding the details of the relationship are to follow soon.

In April, he starred in Alfonso Arau’s (Like Water for Chocolate) controversial film ZAPATA, the beautifully photographed mythical retelling of the Mexican revolutionary’s life. Also in April, People en Español named him as one of the World’s Most Beautiful People. Later in the month, he was taken completely by surprise when he was awarded El Premio De Estrella at the Billboard Latin Music Awards, acknowledging his long career and contributions to music.

Ozomatli’s “Street Signs” Makes Strong Debut on Charts

LA’s beloved Afro-Latin-and-beyond style mashers, Ozomatli, new CD on Concord “Street Signs” debuted at #2 on the Billboard New Artist chart, # 125 on the Billboard Top 200, and # 2 on the Billboard Latin chart (behind Marc Anthony). “Street Signs” is also currently the #1 record on KCRW in LA (ahead of artists such as the Beastie Boys and PJ Harvey) and getting extensive airplay on multiple formats across the country.

Ozo marked their record release week with a string of sold out shows at LA’s Dragonfly club, and one of the largest in-stores ever at Amoeba Records in Los Angeles with over 1200 people in attendance.

Mainstream press response to “Street Signs” appears to be proof the group’s work is finally beginning to register with those folks. The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, and Daily Variety have each published ultra positive reviews as has the San Diego Union Tribune’s Night & Day.

Ozomatli is a multi-racial act that’s never been shy about their commitment to social justice, progressive politics, and anti-war convictions. “Music is the key to every culture, the beginning of an understanding,” says the band’s trumpet player and co-vocalist Asdru Sierra. “September 11 really pushed us to delve into North African and Arab music. For us, music is a language far more universal than politics.”

“Street Signs” includes a Middle Eastern musical influence out in typical Ozo style, by mixing it into their trademark blend of hip hop and Latin styles. “Believe,” the album’s uplifting opening track looks for hope in destruction and features Veteran Moroccan sintir master Hassan Hakmoun, who’s joined by the acclaimed French-Jewish gypsy violinsts Les Yeux Noir and The Prague Symphony.

Concord Records, the group’s new and third label, gave the Group total creative freedom to follow their songs wherever they went. “With the last record, I loved all of our collaborations, but it wasn’t a complete representation of who Ozomatli is,” said Sierra. The lead singer and trumpet player added, “Concord just seemed happy to let us go off and do our thing. There’s a real sense of acceptance of what we do. Plus, I’m really honored to be on the same label as Eddie Palmieri. He’s my idol.”

The band invited Palmieri, the legendary Latin jazz and salsa pianist, to play on “Nadie Te Tira.” Along with Palmieri, Hakmoun, Les Yeux Noirs, Chali 2na, and the Prague Symphony (who play on three tracks), Ozomatli is also joined by Los Lobos singer-guitarist David Hidalgo (“Santiago”) and the band’s original DJ, Cut Chemist (“Dejame en Paz”). There’s also the band’s new MC (Jabu, formerly of 4th Avenue Jones).

“We started, our perspectives have changed as our lives have changed,” says the band’s saxophone player who also serves as keyboardist and clarinet player, Ulises Bella. “We just trust each other more now. Everyone gives everyone the space we all need. This band did not start, at all, to get a record deal. It started out of love for the music we made, and that’s exactly where we still are.”

Los Temerarios Release “27” Their Latest CD

The new CD by Los Temerarios is an interesting one. It’s a tribute to the music which has served the group’s members. The CD entitled, 27, on Fonovisa, is completely done in ranchera style. It’s a nice nod to the music enjoyed and revered by so many listeners. Additionally, as has become the trend, Fonovisa has included a DVD of videos for the band’s fans.

Grammy Watch

It must be noted that some top notch music has been tabbed for Grammy nominations this year. Such names as Molotov, Superlitio, Control Machete, Bersuit, Julieta Venegas, Bebo y Cigalia, Kinky, Juan Gabriel, and Alejandra Guzman among others are being included in the 2004 Grammy Award nominations.

Look for an exclusive intereview with Bebo from Bebo y Cigalia in a forthcoming edition of La Prensa San Diego.

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