Matana Roberts The Chicago Project

Before even considering the music, the mix of this CD is outstanding. Helmed by post-rock don John McIntyre, and mixed by hip-hop engineer Scotty Hard and pianist Vijay Iyer, the sound of The Chicago Project should subliminally grab the attention of casual listeners. The mix is full and powerful, like a rock record, not wispy and atmospheric, as is the case with so much jazz production. Roberts’ beautiful burnished tone on alto commands attention throughout with fluidly melodic ideas within assertive phrasing. Her three duets with avowed inspiration Fred Anderson (number three in her Myspace influences) are phenomenal saxophone sparring matches. Guitarist Jeff Parker, McIntyre’s band-mate in Tortoise, is becoming more expressive all the time, and his instrument is flattered by the production. His sensitive textures in "For Razi” match well with Roberts’ tone and Frank Rosaly’s mallet-driven cymbals. Josh Abrams’ bass is the unifying element in the mix, adding muscle to the already excellent songwriting. The Chicago Project’s invention never lets up and its production guarantees repeat listening. (Central Control International)