Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter Five – In The Garden

The American multi-instrumentalist and band couch a political message in an abstract patchwork of rhythm, riff, free improv and spoken word


It should be pretty clear by now that the Coin Coin “project” is something that goes way beyond anything concerned only with the jazz/creative improvised music continuum. Of course that music has never existed in a bubble and has throughout its relatively long existence encompassed politics both personal and social, and social issues, and has addressed matters of social injustice.

This particular chapter of Coin Coin falls right in with such precedents while at the same time developing a form of music, and indeed a form of communication, that is both outside of labels and a fair few of the established precedents.

Given the broad sweep (though not the broad brush) that this implies, dealing with this chapter as something self-contained is to view it in isolation. That said, it has about it an air of individuality quite in keeping with, say, the solo saxophone, keyboards and words that are the summary of chapter three; the deployment of a large ensemble here inevitably lends proceedings a broader tonal palette. Roberts’ “wordspeak” on this occasion focuses on a female-identified protagonist, and as such is reflective of their concern with inclusivity if viewed against the backdrop of the protagonists in earlier chapters. Set against that are the likes of the opening We Said, which is amongst other things evokes a marching tradition in the midst of a soundscape which otherwise defies the customary reasoning.

Otherwise, and allowing for the fine degree to which precedents can be pertinently applied, a spirit that on this occasion is evoked for this listener is that of Marion Brown’s Afternoon Of A Georgia Faun album, which as far as I can hear was similarly unconcerned with meeting expectations and very approximately concerned with mapping out rarefied territory. The result in both cases is a blast, the depth and trenchancy of which is very much dependent on the degree to which the listener’s willing to suspend their preconceptions.

We Said; Different Rings; Unbeknownst; Predestined Confessions; How Prophetic; A Caged Dance; I Have Long Been Fascinated; Enthralled Not By Her Curious Blend; No Way Chastened; But I Never Heard A Sound So Long; The Promise; Shake My Bones; A(way) IS Not An Option; For They Do Not Know; Others Each; …Ain’t I…Your Mystery Is Our History (79.33)
Roberts (comp, horns, hca, pc, v, wordspeak); Matt Lavelle (acl, pocket t, tin whistle, v); Stuart Bogie (bcl, cl, tin whistle, v); Darius Jones (as, tin whistle, v); Mazz Swift (vn, v, tin whistle); Corey Smythe (p, v, tin whistle); Kip Malone (syn); Ryan Sawyer, Mike Pride (d, pc, v); Gitanjali Jain (text collage); Jaimie Branch (Courage 1983 – 2022). Bunker Studios, Brooklyn, no date(s).
Constellation CST170