Matana Roberts w. Andrew Mallon & Greg Davis – 5.28.09

Greg Davis is bringing another great show to Burlington. This happens to feature an old friend of his from his Depaul Music School days. 


Coin Coin Prologue
Solo Saxophone Multimedia Performance


Andrew Mallon (Vibraphone/Percussion)


Greg Davis (Synthesizer / Electronics)

Thursday, May 28th, 2009
8:00 p.m.
$7 – All Ages
Firehouse Gallery
135 Church St.
Burlington VT 05401

“Matana Roberts, a fearless and charismatic Chicago-born saxophonist who can reconcile all sorts of saxophone languages….”
NY Times

In 2008 she released a homage project to her hometown entitled The Chicago Project, on Barry Adamson’s Central Control International, produced by pianist extraordinaire Vijay Iyer, featuring friends and supporters of her Chicago development.

She has also recorded as a side person on recordings with such iconic bands as Godspeed You Black Emperor, TV on the Radio, Guillermo Scott Herren’s Savath and Savalas and sound artist Daniel Given’s Day Clear/Day dark.

( a clip of her from Paris in 2007 )

for more info regarding her project  COIN COIN, read on …

NYC based, Chicago born Saxophonist, rising star, Matana Roberts to embark on 9 city solo tour in support of her project COIN COIN.
In 1998, on a pure procrastinational  whim,  Chicago born, brooklyn based saxophonist/composer/sound conceptualist  Matana Roberts entered her mothers maternal family name into an ancestral website  run by the Mormon Church (, expecting as with most African American  Ancestry to find a void of  complete nothingness. Instead up popped the marraige certificate of her maternal great grandparents,  two people of African, Irish and native american ancestry, born as slaves,  married as freed people in Fayette Tennessee in 1872. Three years later  Matana  relocated to New York City looking for a different shade of creative  inspiration, mind bending challenge and  risk taking artistic growth and personal interrogation  that she felt was of a different breed  in her hometown environment, not realizing  that with the precious info she stumbled upon in 1998 she was already carrying the key to  invigorating her own  artistic transendance.

In 2005 Matana begin experiencing a deep creative depression about the scope, boundary and possibilty of her chosen  art form. Coincidently her maternal grandmother,  family griot of the family and archive keeper died suddenly.  Rifling through her grandmothers left belongings, on a visit home, she found  mounatins of legal documentation and personal mementos of her family’s history going back to before the Louisiana purchase. Inspired by these finds,   Matana decided to  redefine her use of   the american  jazz art form and use it to deal with the grief of her family’s loss, and the confusion she felt over the dullness of her artistic path as a tool for personal artistic interrogation. Through further ongoing research she has uncovered a family narrative that is enriching her creative life beyond the scope that she originally imagined it fostering.

COIN COIN a blood narrative in blacks, browns, reds and blues……

CoinCoin is an patch work sound quilt broken down by the defining moments of a one group of peoples shared history. It tries to pay homage to lives past but that have amazing stories worth remembering and telling using the traditions of jazz and improvised inspired music as it’s medium. Through original compositions and various ensemble configurations Saxophonist/composer Matana is pulling together tales of 7 generations of her own colorful ancestral lore that spans at least 4 continents in order to paint a musical portrait of an extraordinary, yet classic African American history.

The namesake of this project refers to Marie Therese “Coin Coin.” A woman who is legendary in southern Louisianan American history and folklore and whose “times of yore” influence runs through  a  segment of Matana’s family tree. A child of West African descended slave parents (her mother was thought to be Ewe royalty that was sold into slavery by a rival tribe) Coin Coin was herself in one short lifetime a slave, an obligatory concubine, a mother of 15 children,  10 of which resulted  from a  slave union  to a French man (all of which she eventually bought out of slavery), a medicine woman, a fur trapper, a community leader, a first rate southern griot, and then later a grandmother of 72 grandchildren, owner of more than 1000 acres of land, and ironically a number of slaves. All of this at least 40 years before the Emancipation Proclamation of 1865, and at least over a hundred years before the first waves of the American feminist movement.

Matana Roberts has been hearing the stories of coin coin  all of her life, along with anecdotes and legends of other interesting  men and women who influenced her genetic line that lived hard precarious lives, but died strong in an effort so that their spirits might carry on in the lives of their descendants. From the heart of French, Irish and British country to the coasts of West Africa, the swamps of Louisiana, the tears shed on marched trails by Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickasaws, to the musical soundscapes of Memphis’s Beale Street, back water Mississippi blues and nomadic hope filled travels to the American Midwest and other lands beyond the spirit crushing “strange fruited” south, Matana breathes a creative life because they all breathed first.

These musical narratives will be directly based on the family tales and folk lore that Matana heard constantly while growing up on Chicago’s fabled “south side.” It will tell the stories and myths of a people that weaved a legacy that grew a tremendous family tree, that despite knarled roots, still remains standing.

Matana Roberts’s “Coin Coin” — in essence — a musical monument to the human experience.


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: