Released on 30th September is the much-anticipated next instalment in Matana Roberts’ unique and forward-looking project the “Coin Coin” Series.
Guided by a process she has described as ‘panoramic sound quilting’ – based on the handicraft work of her forebears – COIN COIN Chapter Two finds Roberts conjuring up a storm of thought provoking and emotional feast of music.
The first, highly acclaimed, release in the series “Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres” was the culmination of two years of regular visits to Montréal and featured fifteen musicians assembled from that city’s out-jazz, experimental and avant-rock scenes. Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile was developed for a smaller New York jazz sextet and was recorded with this group in late 2012, following several years of local and international performances of the piece with this line-up.
“Mississippi Moonchile” takes the next leap forward in Roberts’ complex project which touches on memory and recuperation, where historical and contemporary musical tropes, fragmentary spoken and sung narratives, and Matana’s alto saxophone and vocals are supported by Shoko Nagai on piano, Jason Palmer on trumpet , Thomson Kneeland on double bass, Tomas Fujiwara on drums and operatic tenor Jeremiah Abiah taking the vocal parts.
Although it is conventionally split by 18 titles and track IDs, the album presents an uninterrupted, incantatory piece of through-composed music, where thematic structure and free improvisation mix together into an amazing listening experience.
While Chapter One was marked by more defined set pieces, Chapter Two unfolds as a cohesive album-length piece, channelling the original drama and catharsis of “Gens de couleur libres” into something more measured and inward looking.
The inclusion of a male operatic singer contributes significantly to the album, and operates as a fascinating foil to Roberts’ own voice, which alternates between splintered ‘wordspeak’ and deeply soulful singing.
Melodic themes, occasional ostinato passages, and variously deployed literal voices carry the overriding theme of individual narratives and personal expressions of both struggles and celebrations of collective history.
Passages of avant jazz merge effortlessly with neo-classical vocals from Abiah and funky asides from Roberts, through modal and serial sections to create a unique album.
Imagine, if you can, Karlheinz Stockhausen locking horns with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Phillip Glass (around Einstien On The Beach) under the direction of Charles Mingus and you are getting somewhere close to this remarkable album
I shall be featuring the album on the World of Jazz Podcast on 22nd August.