A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Photo by Benito Abrams

Matana Roberts is a Chicago-bred, NYC-based composer-performer with an interest in “the mystical roots and spiritual traditions of American creative expression.”

Over the course of fifteen years of working as a saxophonist, composer, and bandleader, she has released numerous albums under her own name and led ensembles in performance in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. In addition to her own projects, Matana has cut her teeth as a sideperson with Greg Tate’s Burnt Sugar, Reg E. Gaines and Savion GloverThe Oliver Lake Big BandThe Julius Hemphill Sextet, and Merce Cunningham dance, and collaborated in the studio with bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor and TV On The Radio. Matana’s most recent release, COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres (Constellation), earned numerous accolades, including the #2 slot on SPIN magazine’s list of the 20 Best Avant Albums of 2011.

After presenting her work in various configurations over the past ten years, we invited Matana to test drive new work on our stage during a three-performance residency. Matana has been using this residency to develop a body of instrumental avant music with a quartet featuring the guitarist Liberty Ellman, the bassist Kevin Tkacz, and the drummer Ches Smith. This Saturday, she will give her final performance of this run, which, like the previous ones, has been selected by Time Out New York as a Critics’ Pick.

As we have reported previously, Matana frequently updates her own photo blog, STEELKILT, ROSE. We also recommend (re)visiting our initial post on the saxophonist for more a/v.