June 2007

The Rotunda4014 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA Map
Price: Free Admission
Thursday, March 15, 2007 - 8:00pm

Coin Coin

Matana Roberts, reeds
Jessica Pavone, viola
Daniel Levin, cello
Keith Witty, bass
Mary Halvorson, guitar

Chicago bred saxophonist /composer Matana Roberts presents Coin Coin: Installation 1, the third performance of her in-progress musical narratives which explore the defining moments of an extraordinary African American history using the traditions of jazz and improvisational music, original compositions and various ensembles.

The project refers to Marie Therese Coincoin. A woman who is legendary in southern Louisianan American history and folklore and whose "times of yore" influence runs through Matana's family tree. A child of West African descended slave parents, Coincoin was herself in one short lifetime a slave, an obligatory concubine, a mother of five children from an Indian husband and ten children from a "business pairing" to a Frenchman (all of which she eventually bought out of slavery), a medicine woman, a fur trapper, a community leader, a first rate southern griot, and then later a grandmother of 72 grandchildren, owner of more than 1000 acres of land, and ironically more than 16 slaves. All of this at least 40 years before the Emancipation Proclamation of 1865, and at least over 100 years before the first waves of the American feminist movement.

This performance will be directly based on the tales and folklore that Matana heard constantly while growing up on Chicago's South Side. The music will tell the stories and myths of a people that weaved a legacy that grew a tremendous family tree that, despite knarled roots, still remains standing.

Matana (mah-tah-Na) Roberts is a dynamic saxophonist, composer and improviser, who tries to expose in her music the mystical roots and spiritual traditions of African American creative expression. A Chicago native, she was fortunate enough to be surrounded by elder musicians who showed her by distinct example the importance of listening to one's personal creative voice while at the same time using the profound and many layered traditions of jazz and improvised musics to act only as her creative guide, not as her creative definer. By using their mentorship, she has been able to craft a voice and creative focus that truly speaks to her own true artistic individuality.

Her second recording collaboration with bassist Joshua Abrams and drummer/percussionist Chad Taylor, Sticks & Stones, was released on Thrill Jockey records in June of 2004. She has played alongside such musical luminaries as Roscoe Mitchell, Oliver Lake, Marty Erhlich, Eugene Chadbourne, Henry Grimes, Hannah Marcus, George Lewis, Fred Anderson, Nicole Mitchell, Jeff Parker, Robert Barry, Joe Maneri, Miya Masaoka, Vijay Iyer and David Boykins, among many others. Matana is currently working on a recording of solo compositions, a large musical biographical project, and is collaborating with wordsmith Reg E. Gaines and tap dancer Savion Glover on a project that explores the legacy of jazz history's legends. She is also a member of the AACM and is on faculty at The School for Improvisational Music.