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In rotation: Matana Roberts' 'COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres'

July 22, 2011 | 12:50 pm

A series in Sunday Calendar about what Times writers & contributors are listening to right now...

Matana Roberts' 'COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres'

The New York-based saxophonist/sound artist Matana Roberts is a musical polymath if there ever was one: She’s worked with artists and musicians ranging from hotshot jazz pianist Vijay Iyer and modern-dance pioneer Merce Cunningham to rockers TV on the Radio and the cryptic Montreal post-rock collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor!, whose longtime label Constellation released “COIN COIN” this year.

It’s the first installment of a nebulous project that she calls “compositional sound language,” drawing from ghost stories, African American history and a long musical conversation with her avant-garde jazz peers (some of it flinty and confrontational). The sprawling music pulls from the exhilarating deconstructions of Sun Ra, but Roberts’ vocal style can transcend lyrics into something purely physical and essential.

Matana Roberts
“COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres”


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In Rotation: 'An Empty Bliss Beyond This World' by the Caretaker

— August Brown