Matana Roberts

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Matana Roberts
Roberts at All Tomorrow's Parties April 2007
Roberts at All Tomorrow's Parties
April 2007
Background information
Born1975 (age 45–46)
OriginChicago, Illinois, United States
GenresJazz, experimental
Associated actsSticks and Stones

Matana Roberts (born 1975)[1] is an American sound experimentalist, visual artist, jazz saxophonist and clarinetist, composer and improviser based in New York City.[2] She has previously been an active member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).[3][4]

The works in her multichapter Coin Coin project have received wide acclaim: Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres was named in multiple JazzTimes 2011 Critics’ Lists;[5] Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile was called "stunning" by both the Chicago Reader[6] and SPIN;[7] and Coin Coin Chapter Three: River Run Thee was named among Rolling Stone's Best Avant Albums of 2015.[8] Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis has garnered her greatest accolades, and was included in Pitchfork's Best Experimental Albums,[9] Bandcamp's Best Jazz Albums,[10] and the top ten of the NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll in 2019.[11] Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drop called the album "one of the decade's most compelling jazz projects".[12]

The annual DownBeat Critics Poll has named Roberts Rising Star in both the alto saxophone[13] and clarinet categories.[14] Roberts received a Doris Duke Impact Award in 2014 and a Doris Duke Artist Award in 2016.[15][16]

Early life and career[edit]

Roberts at Moers Festival 2010

Born in 1975 in Chicago, Illinois, Roberts was raised on the city's South Side and studied classical clarinet during her youth.[3] She formed a trio, Sticks and Stones, with bassist Josh Abrams and drummer Chad Taylor, with whom she regularly performed at the Velvet Lounge.[17] In 2002, Roberts moved to New York, initially busking in subways and publishing a zine, Fat Ragged, about her experiences.[17]

Roberts is the composer of Coin Coin, a multichapter musical work-in-progress exploring themes of history, memory and ancestry.[18] Roberts performed at the London Jazz Festival in 2007.[19] In 2008, Central Control released Roberts' The Chicago Project.[20] The album, produced by Vijay Iyer, includes performances by members of Prefuse 73 and Tortoise along with AACM saxophonist Fred Anderson.[21]

She has previously been an active member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).[3]

In January 2010, Roberts was the guest curator at The Stone.[22] Roberts was chosen by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel to perform at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival that he curated in March 2012 in Minehead, England.[23] Roberts held a residency at the Whitney Museum of American Art in the summer of 2015, during which she produced a series of research-based sound works entitled i call america.[24] The following summer, she had a solo show at the Fridman Gallery entitled I Call America II that was presented as an expanded version of the Whitney exhibition.[25]



Solo / as band leader[edit]

As collaborator / side woman[edit]

  • Sticks and Stones (482 Music, 2002)
  • Sticks and Stones, Shed Grace (Thrill Jockey, 2004)
  • DePaul University Jazz Ensemble, Bob Lark, Shade Street (Blue Birdland, 1999)
  • Ras Moshe and the Music Now Society, Schematic (Jump Arts, 2002)
  • Ayelet Gottlieb, InTernal/ExTernal (Genivieve, 2004)
  • Matt Bauder, Paper Gardens (rec. 2006; 482 Music, 2010)
  • Guillermo E. Brown, Handeheld (Melanine Harmonique, 2008)
  • Exploding Star Orchestra featuring Roscoe Mitchell (/ Rob Mazurek), Matter Anti-Matter (Rogueart, 2013)
  • Matana Roberts, Sam Shalabi, Nicolas Caloia, Feldspar (Tour de Bras, 2014)
  • Matana Roberts / Savion Glover / Reg E. Gaines, If 'Trane Was (SG self release)?

With Burnt Sugar[edit]

  • Not April in Paris (Live from Banlieus Bleues) (TruGroid, 2004)
  • If You Can’t Dazzle Them with Your Brilliance, Then Baffle Them with Your Blisluth (TruGroid, 2005)
  • More Than Posthuman – Rise of the Mojosexual Cotillion (TruGroid, 2006)
  • Making Love to the Dark Ages (LiveWired, 2009)

As guest artist[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Matana Roberts". Foundation for Contemporary Arts. 2013. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  2. ^ Johnson, Martin (March 11, 2008). "Chicago's Avant-Garde Musicians". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Lurie, Matthew (April 4, 2005). "Relative Chords". Time Out Chicago. Chicago: Time Out Group Ltd. Archived from the original on October 9, 2008. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
  4. ^ Morgan, Frances (December 12, 2011). "Matana Roberts' Genealogy of Jazz". In These Times.
  5. ^ "Critics' Lists 2011". JazzTimes. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  6. ^ Margasak, Peter (October 4, 2013). "Matana Roberts drops the stunning second chapter of her Coin Coin project". Chicago Reader. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  7. ^ Walls, Seth Colter (October 3, 2013). "Matana Roberts Weaves Stunning Avant-Jazz Tapestry on 'Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile'". SPIN. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Weingarten, Christopher R. (December 29, 2015). "20 Best Avant Albums of 2015". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  9. ^ "The Best Experimental Albums of 2019". Pitchfork. December 16, 2019. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  10. ^ Sumner, Dave (December 17, 2019). "The Best Jazz Albums of 2019". Bandcamp. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  11. ^ Davis, Francis (January 14, 2020). "The 2019 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll". NPR. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  12. ^ "Matana Roberts - COIN COIN Chapter Four: Memphis". The Needle Drop. November 14, 2019. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Wadada Leo Smith, Mary Halvorson Among Winners in DownBeat Critics Poll". DownBeat. June 26, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  14. ^ a b "DownBeat Announces Winners of the 2018 Int'l Critics Poll". DownBeat. June 25, 2018. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  15. ^ a b "2014 Doris Duke Impact Awards". Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  16. ^ a b "2016 Doris Duke Artist Awards". Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. 2016. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  17. ^ a b Shteamer, Hank (November 30, 2006). "Roots Radical". Time Out New York. New York: Time Out Group Ltd. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
  18. ^ West, Michael J. (November 1, 2019). "Matana Roberts' 'Coin Coin' Project is a Sonic Patchwork of American History". DownBeat. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  19. ^ Flynn, Mike (January 14, 2008). "Matana Roberts". Time Out London. London: Time Out Group Ltd. Archived from the original on October 9, 2008. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  20. ^ Reynolds, Nick (February 8, 2008). "Matana Roberts Chicago Project: Review". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved June 25, 2008.
  21. ^ Allegro Media (November 6, 2007). "Saxophone Maven Matana Roberts Releases the Chicago Project on Central Control International February 2008". All About Jazz. Archived from the original on October 8, 2008. Retrieved June 26, 2008.
  22. ^ Longley, Martin (January 2010). "The Stone" (PDF). All About Jazz - New York. New York: (93): 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 14, 2010. Retrieved July 19, 2010.
  23. ^ "ATP curated by Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel) - All Tomorrow's Parties". Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  24. ^ "Matana Roberts:i call america | Whitney Museum of American Art". Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  25. ^ "Fridman Gallery". Fridman Gallery. Archived from the original on December 21, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  26. ^ Margasak, Peter (May 5, 2011). "Jazz Genealogy". The Chicago Reader. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  27. ^ "Finalist nominees for the 2008 Jazz Awards". Jazz Journalists Association. 2008. Retrieved June 28, 2008.

External links[edit]