Primary Instrument: Sax, alto
Matana 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. She feels strongly that her music should not only reflect the many colors and moods of universal human emotions, but that it should also testify, critique, document, and respond to the many socio-economic, historical, and cultural inequalities that exist not only in this country, but all over the world.
Her second recording collaboration with bassist Joshua Abrams and drummer/ percussionist Chad Taylor - known as sticks&stones was released to critical acclaim on Thrill Jockey records in June of 2004.( www.thrilljockey.com)
She has played alongside such musical luminaries as Steve Lacy, Eugene Chadbourne,Hery Grimes, Hannah Marcus, Fred Anderson, Nicole Mitchell, Jeff Parker, Robert Barry, Joe Maneri, Miya Masaoka, Vijay Iyer, David Boykins, and Ralph Alessi.
Matana is currently working on a recording of “live electronic” solo compositions, a string project to be premiered in October 2004, and is collaborating with wordsmith Reg E. Gaines and tap dancer Savion Glover on a project that explores the legacy of saxophonist John Coltrane. She is also an associate member of the A.A.C.M.--Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Matana is also on the faculty of S.I.M.--School For Improvised Music.