The Squid's Ear Magazine

Obomsawin, Mali (Harris / Elhajli / Burik / Campbell / Ho Bynum): Sweet Tooth [VINYL] (Out Of Your Head Records)

Wabanaki bassist, composer and songwriter Mali Obomsawin presents a compositional suite that highlights the art and culture of her people, binding together blues, jazz, hymns and folk songs with an ensemble of exceptional NY improvisers: Savannah Harris (drums), Miriam Elhajli (guitars, voice), Allison Burik (reeds), Noah Campbell (sax) and Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet & flugelhorn).

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product information:

UPC: 198004063630

Label: Out Of Your Head Records
Catalog ID: OOYH 017
Squidco Product Code: 33194

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Firehouse 12, in New Haven, Connecticut, on January 22nd and 23rd, 2022, by Greg Dicrosta.


Mali Obomsawin-bass, lead vocals, hand drum

Savannah Harris-drums, vocals

Miriam Elhajli-acoustic guitar, electric guitar, lead vocals

Allison Burik-bass clarinet, alto saxophone, vocals

Noah Campbell-tenor, soprano, alto saxophones

Taylor Ho Bynum-cornet, flugelhorn

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Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Sweet Tooth from Wabanaki bassist, composer, and songwriter Mali Obomsawin highlights centuries of clever adaptation and resistance that have fueled the art and culture of Wabanaki people. Written as a compositional suite, the album, released in October 2022 on Out of Your Head Records, blends Wabanaki stories and songs with compositions addressing contemporary Indigenous life, colonization, and continuity. It's at once intimately personal, featuring field recordings of relatives at Odanak First Nation, but also conveys a larger story of the Wabanaki people. The compositions reveal threads that bind together blues, jazz, hymns, folk songs, and Native cultures, and foreground the breadth of Indigenous contributions to these genres."-Out of Your Head Records

"Telling Indigenous stories through the language of jazz is not a new phenomenon," Obomsawin explains. "My people have had to innovate endlessly to get our stories heard - learning to express ourselves in French, English, Abenaki... but sometimes words fail us, and we must use sound. Sweet Tooth is a testament to this." Sweet Tooth is a celebration of Indigenous innovation, and an ingeniously envisioned debut for this composer-bandleader."-Mali Obomsawin

Movement One:

Odana: "The Village," Learned from the singing of Alanis Obomsawin, arranged by Mali Obomsawin. This ballad, likely as old as the early 1700s, is an homage to the Abenaki reservation in Quebec, Odanak, which was founded by our Sokoki and Abenaki ancestors in 1660.

Lineage: Composed by Mali Obomsawin.

Movement Two:

Wawasint8da: "Religious Song," Arranged by Mali Obomsawin. Wawasint8da is a Catholic hymn translated from Latin into the Abenaki language by one of the early French Jesuit priests who lived among the Abenaki. It tells the story of Jesus' Descent into Hell or Hades (also known as 'The Harrowing of Hell') to liberate souls who had died outside of the Catholic faith. Ethnologist Gordon Day documented Odanak's Ambroise O'Bomsawin singing the hymn in the mid-1900s. Folded into this arrangement is also an ancient Wabanaki mourning song called "Sami'metwehu," which Mali learned from Dwayne Tomah of the Passamaquoddy Tribe.

Pedegwajois: "Little Round Mountain," Told by Theophile Panadis, composed by Mali Obomsawin. This story is from ancient times before colonization. In the field recording (by Gordon Day), Theophile Panadis of Odanak recounts the tale of a young man receiving a teaching from a metawelinno, which brings him to the middle of Betobagw ("Lake Champlain") during a thunderstorm.

Movement Three:

Fractions: Composed by Mali Obomsawin.

Blood Quantum (Neweweceskawikapawihtawa): Composed and arranged by Mali Obomsawin, additional arr. by Lancelot Knight of Muskoday First Nation. Neweweceskawikapawihtawa This contemporary chant, folded into the Blood Quantum arrangement, is co-written by Mali Obomsawin, Lokotah Sanborn and Carol Dana of the Penobscot Nation. Dana, a grandmother and language keeper for her community, aided in the chant's translation:

"I stand to face him, I face him defiantly, unflinchingly, I confront him. We remember our matriarchs We remember our grandmothers."

Artist Biographies

"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."

-Mali Obomsawin Website (

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"Savannah is a drummer and writer currently studying journalism at Howard University, where she writes the Hilltop newspaper's "Femiknowledge" column. Growing up in Oakland, Calif., she learned drums at an early age, studying with her father Fred Harris and her step-father Khalil Shaheed. A member of the Howard University Jazz Ensemble, she has also performed independently with names such as Geri Allen and Marcus Belgrave. In 2014 she joined the world-renowned faculty at NJPAC's All-Female Jazz Residency Week."

-Capital Bob (

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"Miriam Elhajli is a folk singer, composer-improviser, and musicologist whose work is influenced by the rich musical traditions of her Venezuelan, Moroccan and North American heritage.

Elhajli currently lives in New York City where she performs and works as a researcher at The Association for Cultural Equity founded by Alan Lomax. Elhajli's debut LP "Observations" was released her independent label Numina Records. Elhajli's sophomore album "The Uncertainty of Signs" was released 2/22/22."

-Miriam Elhajli Website (

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Allison Burik: "Saxophonist - Vocalist - Composer - Arranger

Kansas City native Allison Burik is a saxophonist and composer based in Boston. During her time in Kansas City she performed as a featured artist at venues such as the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, Take Five Coffee+Bar, and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. Burik attended Berklee College of Music and received her Bachelors Degree in Performance in 2016. She is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Contemporary Improvisation at the New England Conservatory while maintaining an active career as a performer. She seeks to explore differing worlds of sonic possibilities through her many projects. Burik has released a solo EP, "Some Days Like This," (2019) a quartet album, "Mythos," (2016) and will be releasing a duo album fall of 2019 with guitarist Magdalena Abrego. Their duo goes by the name Umbrella Pine and since 2013 the two have been steadily cultivating their sound through original compositions and improvisation. Since arriving in Boston in 2013, Burik has become an internationally known artist, having performed in festivals, residencies, and concerts in places as far reaching as France, South Korea, and Canada. Burik has been on tour with a number of bands, including Jonah Francese's Thinkin' Big Band, which actively plays in venues across New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Burik went on tour in South Korea with the Dabin Ryu Quintet in July 2019. They played in venues throughout Seoul, Busan, and Gwangju. Over the years Allison has studied with notable musicians including George Garzone, Joe Morris, Ingrid Laubrock, Ran Blake, Carla Kilhstedt, Anthony Coleman, Frank Tiberi, Bobby Watson, Jaleel Shaw, Shannon LeClaire, and Tia Fuller. In August 2017, she attended the Banff Jazz and Creative Music Workshop in Alberta Canada, under the curation of Vijay Iyer. There, she participated in ensembles led by internationally known musicians including Tyshawn Sorey, Imani Uzuri, Matthew Stevens, and Jeremy Pelt."

-Allison Burik Website (

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Noah Campbell is a tenor saxophonist born and raised in Richmond, VA.

-Gallery 5 9/20/2023

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"Taylor Ho Bynum (b. 1975) has spent his career navigating the intersections between structure and improvisation - through musical composition, performance and interdisciplinary collaboration, and through production, organizing, teaching, writing and advocacy. As heard on over twenty recordings as a bandleader, Bynum's expressionistic playing on cornet and his expansive vision as composer have garnered him critical attention as one of the singular musical voices of his generation. He currently leads his Sextet and 7-tette, and works with many collective ensembles including a duo with drummer Tomas Fujiwara, the improv trio Book of Three, the UK/US collaborative Convergence Quartet, the dance/music interdisciplinary ensemble Masters of Ceremony, and the trans-idiomatic little big band Positive Catastrophe.

His varied endeavors include his Acoustic Bicycle Tours (where he travels to concerts solely by bike across thousands of miles) and his stewardship of Anthony Braxton's Tri-Centric Foundation (which he serves as executive director, producing most of Braxton's recent major projects). In addition to his own bands, his ongoing collaboration with Braxton, past work with other legendary figures such as Bill Dixon and Cecil Taylor, and current collective projects with forward thinking peers, Bynum increasingly travels the globe to conduct community-based large ensembles in explorations of new creative orchestra music. He is also a published author and contributor to The New Yorker's Culture Blog, has taught at universities, festivals, and workshops worldwide, and has served as a panelist and consultant for leading funders and organizations. His work has received support from Creative Capital, the Connecticut Office of the Arts, Chamber Music America, New Music USA, USArtists International, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation."

-Taylor Ho Bynum website (

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Track Listing:


1. Odana 4:15

2. Lineage 7:50

3. Wawasint8da 4:47


1. Pedegwajois 5:41

2. Fractions 3:10

3. Blood Quantum (Neweweceskawikapawihtawa) 11:15

Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Quintet Recordings
Song Based Music
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
New in Improvised Music
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