"Awakened By A Noon Day Sun: NDN Jazz" is the latest album by multi-award- winning/ nominated soul-funk-jazz man, Mwalim DaPhunkee Professor (Morgan James Peters) on LMMGM/ Spirit Wind Records. This mostly instrumental project, featuring a hearty dose of Hammond organ led jazz-funk grooves; in addition, several of the songs feature Mwalim on viola.
"Awakened By A Noon Day Sun" is a multi-level musical exploration. As an Afro- Native musician and composer (West Indian and Mashpee Wampanoag), Mwalim masterfully crafted NDN (Native American) influenced melodies and harmonic structures into jazz and funk. Mwalim's ten year-old son, Morgan, also contributed to the album, playing percussion on several of the songs (as well as serving as photographer for the projects promo pictures).
It was the 2013 NAMA that brought Mwalim to the attention of several Native American record labels, but it was the offer from Spirit Wind Records' CEO, Donald Blackfox that he accepted. "Mr Blackfox seemed to be the most supportive in regards to helping me cultivate my artistic vision for this and future projects." Including the debut album of NDN Soul-Funk band, The Groovalottos.
"Awakened By A Noon Day Sun" is the kind of album one would expect from an ethnographic folklorist and musicologist. Having attended powwows and native socials since infancy; listening to the various styles and forms of NDN music featured there. From the eastern styles sung with rattles and hand drums, to the western singers gathered around the big drums, to the various traditions of flute players. This along with the classical, jazz, opera, soul and calypso that were regularly played at home greatly influence his eclectic tastes and understanding of music.
While 'Melodic Storytelling' is a technique found in many cultures and forms -one of the most famous examples being Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf"- within the aesthetic of many Native American styles, the emulation of nature and the capturing of an experience or feeling in nature is what informs the song as well as a dance that might go with it. Here, Mwalim took us through a song-by-song discussion.
"Wade In The Water" is the one song with lyrics on the album. It's about the early contact between Wampanoag people and Africans, largely due to the transatlantic slave trade. The majority of early Africans in this region were from Senegal and Nigeria, and the mythology of Egypt was beneath the classic rhetoric of the colonial leadership. Listening to African and Native American Christians sing hymns influenced the harmonies and feel of the song. It all comes back to the water… renewal, revision…
"An Encounter In Big Bog" - Big Bog is an old bog that is now open land for wildlife and one of the few hunting grounds left in my tribe's territory. In childhood and adulthood, it's a nice place to walk or ride a bike, especially since the town has put up gates on all of the ancient ways and routes of the tribe. This is about a summer afternoon in the bog, listening in on a conversation between the birds, deer and trees.
"The Trading Post (Corner Store)"- Is a tribute to a Wampanoag owned store that used to be in Mashpee called the Ockway Trading Post located at the intersection of Main Street and Great Neck Road North. You could buy soda, deli items and live bait from the same cooler. I was also a central social spot for people of various ages.
"Awakened By A Noon Day Sun" as a professional artist and musician, the night time is often the right time to work, not to mention have gigs. When you get home at 4 or 5 in the morning, the concept of sleeping until noon is a regular reality. One of my bedroom windows faced southeast and the light would often wake me up. I put my viola through some effects boxes and played it pizzicato to get an electric lead guitar sound. There's a vocal version of this song on a previous album sung by Amaris Moss.
"2 Cheese Slices & A Drink" There was a pizza parlor that I used to frequent that had a $2 special consisting of 2 slices of cheese pizza and a medium drink. Musically, I was just playing with a crow-hop groove.
"A Store Front Bible Study" As a college student in Boston, there was a small group of us who would visit the smaller churches in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan and play for the services. The organ players for a lot of the Pentecostal and holiness churches were in quite a zone. I learned a few things from those cats.
"A Turtle's Honor Song" here I owe a giant note of gratitude to Jennifer Kreisberg and Michelle St John for involving me in a transcending experience in Vancouver, the production of the musical "The Road Forward" by Marie Clemens. Jennifer knew I used to be a viola player and decided that I was going to play the viola as a part of this show. Coming back to the viola after an almost 27 year hiatus of seriously playing one, re-introduced me to one of my voices… this song was written in my hotel room in Vancouver based off of the chord changes to one of the songs by Jennifer for the show, and dedicated to my elders who have gone on to the ancestors.
"Behind The Black Door" ain't no party like a Mashpee after-party… smokers in the yard, look out on the side of the house… party's behind the black door. 'Nuff said.
"The Wind Song" I wrote this for my mother, a former opera singer. She's a coloratura and I wrote this with her voice in mind, using a flute.
Mwalim is the 2010 and 2012 winner of the "Best Male Jazz Artist" category in the New England Urban Music Awards" and a multi-category Top Nominee in the 2013 and 2010 Native American Music Awards. In January 2014, Mwalim was a recipient of the "Silver Arrow Award". "Awakened By A Noon Day Sun" will be released in February of 20014 on Spirit Wind Records. Mwalim is a tenured professor at UMass Dartmouth. For more information check www.spiritwindrecords.us. For more information about Mwalim visit www.mwalim.com or check him out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mwalim7.