Working across many contexts and mediums, including improvisation, music composition, visual art,dance, poetry, and theatre, Roberts is perhaps best known for their acclaimed Coin Coin project - a multi-chapter work of 'panoramic sound quilting' mixed media performance work, now up to its fifth chapter of twelve, that aims to expose the mystical roots and intuitive traditions of American creative expression, while maintaining a deep and substantive engagement with narrative, history, community and political expression within sonic structures.
Matana Roberts is an internationally renowned composer, band leader, saxophonist, sound experimentalist and mixed-media practitioner.
Out in September 2023, Coin Coin Chapter Five: In the garden… tells the story of a woman in Matana's ancestral line, who died following complications from an illegal abortion. At a time when reproductive rights are under attack, her story takes on new resonance. Each part of Coin Coin explores radically different musical settings, from the free jazz and post-rock eruptions of Chapter One to the solo noise collage of Chapter Three. Featuring a new ensemble steeped in jazz, improvisation, new music and avant-rock, helping to expand the project’s existing sonic palette, Chapter Five is no exception.
As a composer, Roberts draws upon strategies associated with the post-war avant-garde, including John Cage and Fluxus member Benjamin Patterson’s conceptual approaches to scoring and performance. The immersive work of Maryanne Amacher, in which “sound and the body almost collaborate” is another key influence. “That is the foundation for me of the Coin Coin work,” they explain. “It’s not just the alto saxophone as an instrument placed in the jazz canon, it's the alto saxophone as an instrument that can be utilised to affect the body.”
'A major talent' - The Wire
“Channelling the multi-disciplinary verve of [their] roles as activist, arranger, improviser and radical historianthrough sound, Roberts continues to build a body of work that taps into afro-futurism and black American identitywith the power to reshape narratives and move things forwards.” - The Vinyl Factory
"The force of Roberts’ breath —first through the saxophone, all endurance and fits and starts; then through time, inflated and vivified — makesbold how much the retelling of history is a necessary game of survival.” - Pitchfork