Jazz and Social Justice Vol. 20: Mali Obomsawin—Indigenous Truths

Sweet Tooth, the debut album from bassist, singer and composer Mali Obomsawin nodded to both the familiarly freeing legacy of Ornette Coleman’s mid-20th-century quartet and to lesser-known declarations of independence: the sounds, songs and ideas of Maine’s Wabanaki people. Obamsawin connects these histories with rare power and ingenuity. “My people have had to innovate endlessly to get our stories heard,” she has said.
Here, Obomsawin and her band will perform original music, followed by an in-depth conversation with series host Larry Blumenfeld, NJMH Executive Director and Co-chief Marten Band/Ramapo Munsee Lenape Nation Tracy Hyter-Suffern, and other panelists about connections between jazz and Indigenous cultures, and the issues surrounding Indigenous resistance movements.
MALI OBOMSAWIN (they/she) is an award winning bassist, songwriter and composer from Abenaki First Nation at Odanak. With an expansive background in American roots, rock, and jazz, Obomsawin carries several music traditions. Mali’s debut album Sweet Tooth, has received international acclaim since its release in October of 2022 (Out of Your Head), including rave reviews in The Guardian, JazzTimes, and NPR. A Smithsonian Folkways Recordings artist, she spent the years 2014-2021 touring internationally with beloved folk-rock band Lula Wiles. An in-demand bassist in the US folk and jazz circuits, Mali appears often as an accompanist with contemporaries Jake Blount and Lizzie No, and has performed at festivals like Newport and Philly Folk.  She can also be found in galleries and creative music spaces with the likes of Peter Apfelbaum, Taylor Ho Bynum, and Bill Cole’s Untempered Ensemble.
Obomsawin received the 2022 International Folk Music Association’s “Rising Tide Award,” which honors new generation artists who embody the values and ideals of the folk community through their creative work, community role, and public voice. They also received the New England Foundation of the Arts’ “New Work New England” award in 2022.  Mali is a member of The Julia Keefe Indigenous Big Band and Indigenous Performance Productions’ Welcome To Indian Country. As a composer-arranger, they scored the upcoming film “We Are The Warriors,” collaborated with Red Sky Performance and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Palaver Strings. Beyond the stage Mali is a community organizer and advocate for Indigenous rights, environmental justice and landback. She works as a writer and educator with Sunlight Media Collective, a Wabanaki-driven media team, to document and promote stories at the intersection of environmental justice and Tribal sovereignty. Her journalism has been published recently in Smithsonian, National Performance Network, and the Boston Globe. In 2020, Mali co-founded Bomazeen Land Trust, the first ever Wabanaki land trust, where she currently serves as executive director.

Tue, Mar 28
7:00 pm

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