(Bio by Rocco Stilo)
Chicago-born, and since 2002 New York-based altoist Matana Roberts began playing on sax at 16. After having joined AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians),
she formed her first project, Sticks and Stones, along with Josh Abrams
(bass) and Chad Taylor (drums). The trio recorded two albums: the self-titled (2002) and Shed Grace,
recorded in february and october 2003 live to tape, using no edits or
overdubs. She also recorded several "tribute" albums: the two limited
self-produced Lines For Lacy (2006), dedicated to Steve Lacy in a quartet along with Thomson Kneeland (bass), Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums), and The Calling (same lineup), with a 16-minute version of Sun Ra's We Travel The Spaceways; and also Live In London (november 2010), that contained a 37-minute version of Chad Jones' My Sistr, performed with Tom Mason (bass) and Chris Vatalaro (drums). The Chicago Project (Central Control, 2008) was recorded in 2007 by a quintet along with Josh Abrams (bass), Jeff Parker (guitar), Frank Rosaly (drums) and Fred Anderson (tenor sax).
After her two albums of the Coin Coin project, Gens De Couleur Libres (july 2010) and Mississippi Moonchile
(november 2012), altoist Matana Roberts comes back with another project
trio, formed with Canadian guitarist Sam Shalabi and bassist Nicolas
Caloia. Feldspar, their first album, was recorded in december
2011. The seven pieces mix avantgarde rock, melodies and improvisations.
Shalabi recorded in 2012 the latest album of his
Effect, Feign To Delight Gaiety Of Gods, a 2CD set released by
Annihaya. The lineup was comprising of Will Eizlini (percussion, violin,
keyboards, samples), John Heward (drums, voice), Anthony von Seck
(electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards), Osama Shalabi aka Peggy
Lipton (electric guitar, oud, keyboards), Alexandre St-Onge (electric
and acoustic bass, keyboards, voice).
River Run Thee (Constellation, 2015) is the chapter 3 of Matana
Roberts 12-album project Coin Coin. This time the reedist made all
alone, playing her alto sax along with synthesizer, upright piano (an
early 1900s Archambault), improvised song and
spoken word through multiple layers of field recordings. The twelve
songs of this vinyl were recorded in june 2014. Still by Roberts, Relative Pitch releases Always, an
ambitious “solo alto sax” recorded by the reedist in may 2014,
comprising of two long untitled improvisations, 33-minute and 10-minute
Very large her collaborations: Rob Mazurek, Myra Melford, Vijay Iyer,
Roscoe Mitchell, etc. let's remember, among others, her clarinet in Godspeed You Black Emperor's Yanqui UXO and her sax on Silver Mt Zion's Kollaps Tradixionales
Coin Coin's Chapter Four - Memphis (Constellation, 2019), the fourth installment of Matana Roberts' meditation on African-American civilization, was recorded with Nicolas Caloia (double bass and voice), Ryan Sawyer (drums, vibraphone, Jew’s harp, bells and voice), Hannah Marcus (guitars, accordion and voice), Sam Shalabi (guitar, oud and voice), Ryan White (vibraphone), and three vocalists.
The Truth (december 2018) contains improvisations with
pianist Pat Thomas.
Roberts played horns, harmonicas and percussion and sang on
In The Garden (september 2022), featuring
Mike Pride and Ryan Sawyer (both on drums), Matt Lavelle (alto clarinet, pocket trumpet), Stuart Bogie (clarinets), Cory Smythe (piano), Mazz Swift (violin), Darius Jones (alto sax), and Kyp Malone (synths).