Over at SpiderMonkey Stories, Taylor Ho Bynum has a great writeup of the latest performance of Matana Roberts's sprawling, riveting musico-historical epic, Coin Coin. The performance he saw was of Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libre. I saw Chapter Two: Missippippi Moonchile at Tonic back in December, and while her collaborators for each iteration were completely different, it sounds like the overall effect was very much the same. Much to my regret, I didn't get the chance to write about Coin Coin back in December, but now I don't have to, since Taylor appears to have read my mind:
The music ranged from folky interlocking vamps [...] to two-beat shuffles and old-time waltzes, to the deconstruction of all the above, often by solo improvisers. Lyrical hockets would be interrupted by intense squalls [...].
In terms of scope and structure, I’m reminded of John Carter’s “Roots and Folklore: Episodes in the Development of American Folk Music”, his epic suite following the development of music in the African-American experience.
Be sure to read the whole thing -- Taylor has some great insights about the importance of independent artists pursuing unreasonably ambitious projects, of "going for the big one," even when the institutional support isn't there.
But that's where your support comes in, as fans of independent creative music -- Matana is performing both Gens de Couleur Libre and Mississippi Moonchile at the Jazz Gallery on March 29. Coin Coin, while still a work in progress, is shaping up to be a powerful personal narrative from one of the scene's most probing and creative young musicians. I've been listening to Matana for a long time and Coin Coin definitely marks a major new phase in her artistic journey. It's exciting to hear the work unfold over time, like a serialized novel -- I can't wait for Chapter 3.