Ozomatli is a genre-spanning, Grammy-winning band whose sound draws from Latin influences like salsa and cumbia, as well as hip-hop, rock, reggae and funk. Its many members are political activists who met while working with the Peace and Justice Center of Los Angeles; their first performance was for picketers during a strike.
I recently listened to the first single from the new Cat Power album with some fellow fans, and the room was deeply divided. Some thought the song was fabulous, but others were startled and upset — which I could understand, sort of. Chan Marshall's songs generally speak to pain and trauma with a hushed and intimate musical vocabulary. But this song, "Ruin," was different — not just a rock 'n' roll song, but one you might even want to dance to.
Over the past 20 years, vocalist Karrin Allyson has recorded 13 albums that cover vast musical territory. She's explored The Great American Songbook, the musical styles of Brazil and France, the blues and the work of contemporary songwriters. She's recorded a tribute to John Coltrane and an album of late-night ballads, and she's earned four Grammy nominations.