Matana Roberts


Matana Roberts is a sound experimentalist, jazz saxophonist, composer and improviser based in New York City. She has previously been an active member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). The Jazz Journalists Association selected Roberts as a finalist nominee for the 2008 "Up and Coming Musician of the Year" award (which Lionel Loueke ultimately won).

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Roberts was raised on the city's South Side and studied classical clarinet during her youth. She formed a trio, Sticks and Stones, with bassist Josh Abrams and drummer Chad Taylor, with whom she regularly performed at the Velvet Lounge. In 2002, Roberts moved to New York, initially busking in subways and publishing a zine, Fat Ragged, about her experiences.

Roberts is the composer of Coin Coin, a musical work-in-progress exploring themes of history, memory and ancestry. Roberts performed at the London Jazz Festival in 2007. In 2008, Central Control released Roberts' The Chicago Project. The album, produced by Vijay Iyer, includes performances by members of Prefuse 73 and Tortoise along with AACM saxophonist Fred Anderson.

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BBC Reviews

  1. Review of Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens De Couleur Libres

    Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens De Couleur Libres 2011

    Reviewed by Martin Longley
    An ambitious work, and all of its aims have surely been fulfilled.
  2. Review of Live In London

    Live In London 2011

    Reviewed by Kevin Le Gendre
    There is a restless but disciplined effervescence in Roberts’ playing.
  3. Review of Chicago Project

    Chicago Project 2008

    Reviewed by Nick Reynolds
    Time will tell whether Matana can develop her undoubted skills into something which...
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