Roberts, Matana – “Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile” – [Constellation]
Matana Roberts is a musical genius. This was obvious after listening to part one of this proposed twelve volume or chapter musical experience: “Coin Coin Chapter One: Les Gens De Couleur Libres.” On this eagerly anticipated second release, “Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile”, Roberts continues the exploration of the African American experience as experienced by all, this time manifest through her grandmother and her own memory, reflections and history. Roberts is an alto saxophonist who has composed this one, continuous piece of conceptual jazz, made up of 18 sections. There is voice, her voice which is a talk/sing style speaking the words of her grandmother as well as others. There is the operatic stunner of Jeremiah Abiah singing out to counter balance the jazz stylings. There is the jazz band, a group of accomplished players who smoothly improvise and play the structured sounds flowing from improvisation to blues to spirituals to jazz motifs. Roberts calls this mix of sound “panoramic sound quilting”. This is a journey, an emotional journey that is rare in music, in art. It blends restraint with outburst, cleansing with intrusion, an attempt to heal and clarify with vagueness and misunderstanding or refusal. It is complex feeling. And actually no words of review can truly do it justice. It must be heard, especially all in one sitting, all 49 or so minutes. Midway, with track “Amma Jerusalem School”, vocals come in full force, in their way. It unites the work and wields its heaviness. Audience members who heard the whole performance live supposedly broke down in tears. It’s easy to understand why. Do yourself a favor on this one and play it a number of times.