Matana Roberts Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres

Matana RobertsCoin Coin Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres
Growing out of her childhood interest in spirits and "what they leave behind," saxophonist/composer/vocalist Matana Roberts has fashioned Coin Coin, a sound language with which to explore ancestral history, both factual and fictional. Widely seen as a jazz musician, Roberts also harnesses the earthy simplicity of folk-ish melodies to tell compelling stories of slavery and liberation. "pov piti" tells an orphan's harrowing tale of losing her parents to yellow fever, followed by a moving, dirge-like violin interlude. Survival and how a forbearer wishes for descendants to become "something more than me" are given poetic voice in "kersaia." Shatteringly emotional, "libation for Mr. Brown: Bid em in…" is a potent account of the auctioning of a female slave, with its disturbing "agricultural objectivity," biblical imagery and sexual suggestiveness. Roberts' intimate delivery and quivering vibrato are vulnerable, fiercely angry and may well bring you to tears. Capable of playing and writing interesting jazz, Roberts is reaching for far, far more with this. Recorded with her 14-piece Montreal ensemble, Chapter One is an auspicious first document in what promises to be a fruitful series.