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Latin Alternative Music Conference: Fidel Nadal + Ozomatli, Celebrate Brooklyn, July 9 2010

Ernest Barteldes By

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Fidel Nadal + Ozomatli
Latin Alternative Music Conference
Celebrate Brooklyn
Brooklyn, NY

Playing before a numerous crowd in Prospect Park, Argentinean-born Fidel Nadal (on his New York debut as a solo artist) took the stage with a set that reflected his influences—deep roots reggae with a few nods to the South American variations of the genre. He was backed by a tight seven-piece band, and had a strong stage presence that immediately won the audience, who was there for Ozomatli, the evening's headliner.

Throughout the show, he sang about peace, understanding among people of different races (his father was an activist for Afro-Argentinean civil rights in his native country). Among the tunes was "International Love," a hit single included on the tracks selected for FIFA's 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

After a short break, the Los Angeles-based band took the stage by storm with their genre-bending blend of hip-hop, Latin music, rock, funk and Middle Eastern music. Kicking off with a rap-inflected tune, they sent shout-outs to Brooklyn and did a call-and-response thing with the crowd, who were completely involved with the ensemble's music.

They followed that with a cumbia-funk blend (sung in Spanish) that showcased percussionist Jiro Yamaguchi and saxophonist/vocalist Ulises Bela. The band is incredibly versatile, and they proved that by performing both Indian and Klezmer-inspired tunes (both with Bela on lead vocal). Singer/percussionist Justin Poree was the most visible member as he added his rap vocals to most of the numbers.

Ozomatli is among small number of bands who are able to bridge most genre gaps. Among the crowd were people who had no understanding of Spanish but who were dancing to every song while trying to keep up with the melodies. With their willingness to embrace various musical styles, they prove that music really has no barriers, specially if one can keep an open mind.

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