Reviews that mention Matana Roberts

March 22, 2016

Guelph Jazz Festival

Guelph, Ontario
September 16-20, 2015

By Ken Waxman

Story telling of the verbal and instrumental variety was an important feature of this year’s Guelph Jazz Festival. Trying out new venues such as Heritage Hall (HH), Guelph’s first black church; and the soft-seated Guelph Little Theatre (GLT), the festival added a feeling of intimacy to its innovative programming.

Front and centre with tales, tall and otherwise were two Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM) members, multi-reedist Douglas Ewart and alto saxophonist Matana Roberts. Confirming the old adage that actions can speak louder than words were musicians as cerebrally intricate as Evan Parker’s soprano saxophone forays or as raucous as guitarist Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog trio. MORE

June 25, 2014

Matana Roberts/Sam Shalabi/Nicolas Caloia

Tour de Bras TDB9008cd

Titled after the rock-formations found in the earth’s crust, Feldspar is as rugged as it is remarkable. Naming each of the seven tracks for terrestrial minerals, the tunes confirm not only the attractive results but also the hard work that goes into their production.

Not that there is anything labored about the program. On it American alto saxophonist Matana Roberts, who recently won the Alpert Arts Award for risk-taking, mid-career artists, turns away from her long-term Coin Coin project to interact with two Montrealers: guitarist Sam Shalabi and bassist Nicolas Caloia. Playing together as if they have done so for years, the three evolve a strategy that could almost be a fanciful vaudeville routine between an exuberant and an unruffled comedy team. With Caloia fancifully standing near the wings, only adding tensile thumps when needed for further direction, the saxophonist spins out lightly accented, straight-ahead timbres, while the guitarist uses every manner of string, amp and knob distortion to vary the interface. MORE

October 8, 2008

Variations on a Theme

Guelph Jazz Festival Musicians On Their Own
Extended Play

Barry Guy/Mats Gustafsson/Raymond Strid


Maya MCD0801

Junk Box

Cloudy Then Sunny

Libra Records 203-019

John Zorn

News For Lulu

hatOLOGY 650

Matana Roberts

The Chicago Project

Central Control CC1006PR

Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet


Cuneiform Rune 270

AMMÜ Quartet

AMMÜ Quartet

November 15, 2005

Guelph Jazz Festival:

Improv On The Move
for CODA

Taking the concept of free-flowing improvisation a step further, one morning at this year’s Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), 15 musicians performed simultaneously in four different whitewashed rooms of the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre.

The workshop developed this way, according to Ajay Heble, GJF artistic director, because so many musicians wanted to participate. Some – American alto saxophonist Marshall Allan, British pianist Veryan Weston, Québécois guitarist René Lussier and American banjoist Eugene Chadbourne – rooted on a spot and collaborated with whoever came along. Others moved from place to place and up and down the staircase as they played. MORE

June 7, 2004


Shed Grace
Thrill Jockey thrill 140

On Cortez
Locust Music 40

Real Jazz has always been a music of apprenticeship. Unlike so-called classical or pop music where younger players can make a reputation and a living by reinterpreting and/or copying the work of their elders, jazz revolves around what you as a player can bring to the band stand.

That’s why SHED GRACE is a major step forward for the Sticks & Stones trio, while ON CORTEZ is very much an apprentice effort. Saxophonist Aram Shelton, bassist Jason Ajemian and drummer Tim Daisy, who gave their band its unique name because all were born in 1976, are gathering the experience in Chicago to put them in the sophomore class of players. Reedist Matana Roberts, drummer Chad Taylor -- both of whom spend much of their time in New York -- and bassist Josh Abrams, on the other hand, are already in the senior class. Individually, and collectively as a trio, they’ve developed distinct identities and appear ready to trade the promising for the established designation. MORE

September 30, 2002


Sticks & Stones
482 Music 482-1012

Playing improvised music in a trio setting can be the most revelatory, as well as the most humbling, experience for any jazz musician. Not only does each side of the triangle have to fit just perfectly for the music to take its proper shape, but the looming accomplishments of earlier bands in that configuration can make anyone wary.

Working in the most common saxophone-bass-drum arrangement, Chicago natives alto saxophonist Matana Roberts, bassist Josh Abrams and drummer Chad Taylor have set out with this cooperative combo to craft their own sound. Each contributes three tunes to the CD. Overall, though, the result is a split decision. Some of the tracks are interesting; others drag. More seriously it appears that the skills and versatility of Taylor overpower the other two. MORE