COIN COIN Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile
CST098      CD 180gLP MP3 FLAC

"Roberts' voice on the horn has become much calmer on the 'Coin Coin' albums than on earlier discs like 'The Chicago Project' or 'Live In London'; the roar of her alto has been tempered by a subtle, murmuring introspection and a deep sense of the blues. Trumpeter Jason Palmer shadows her with cautious, complementary lines throughout, and on "Responsory", the 11th section of the piece, they transition seamlessly from sputtering freestyle playing into a passage of heartfelt New Orleans-style blues. Everyone performs thoughtfully and sympathetically, working towards the larger goal... Roberts is in control of her music and the story she wants to tell - the next chapter can't come soon enough."
The Wire (cover feature)

8.1: "Roberts is a meticulous and comprehensive composer, but this music ricochets with the intensity of free jazz and dives smoothly into Sunday afternoon sessions. Mississippi Moonchile boasts impeccable melodies and excoriating variations, cantering rhythms, and debilitating breakdowns."

"The piece has evolved since she first began performing it in 2006, but its core remains intact, its power undiminished… Her agile ensemble play the album as an unbroken continuum, one track flowing into the next. The sanctified combustion of Albert Ayler informs this music, but its mood can also run beguilingly cool, as when a sauntering blues emerges out of scrabbling tumult on a track called 'Responsory.'"
New York Times

9/10: “[A] stunning avant-jazz tapestry... The way Roberts mixes experimentalism with song-form — and with post-rock prepared guitar (on the first volume) or operatic vocals (on this edition) — makes for that rare balance of "accessible" and "innovative."

"Mississippi Moonchile is the second in a projected twelve-album cycle entitled Coin Coin. And throughout the project thus far, Roberts has used her music as a medium through which to explore the liminal zones between lore and history that define the ways in which we understand ourselves in the present. Primarily interrogating her own sense of identity as an African American woman, Roberts calls upon numerous other voices – from her family's history, her culture's mythology – to create not historical documents but living artifacts of collective cultural memory: simultaneously disorienting and exhilarating in their chaotic multiplicity."
The Quietus

“The music is a sung/spoken testimony to endurance and survival, and the family bonds that play a role in overcoming intolerable barriers... [It] begs to be heard from start to finish. Hopefully, this chapter is just the middle part to an ongoing saga.”
All About Jazz

"[Roberts is] carving out her own aesthetic space, one that's startling in its originality and gripping in its historic and social power."
Chicago Reader

"Perhaps the most stunning feature of saxophonist Matana Roberts’ new work, the second installment of a work-in-progress, is that the music seems constantly reborn. Improvisation, composed sections, instrumental riffs and much more burst forth from an uninterrupted panorama and describe a journey that evokes a history rich with all matters of experience and emotion. Though written for sextet, the sensation is of something larger and the scope suggests a multitude of performers playing, singing, chanting and declaiming. Roberts has written a seamless, 18-part composition that gives eloquent shape to, among other things, the notions that music is a positive way to express the vicissitudes of history."
New York City Jazz Record

"The record can be elusive, something Roberts in part acknowledges in frequently returning to the phrase, "There's some things I can't tell you about, honey," through the album's vivid second half. She's speaking in her grandmother's voice, but the notion also reflects trying to put this spellbinding album into words. It just needs to be heard."
LA Times

"Even in its relative gentleness, Mississippi Moonchile asks more provocative questions than its predecessor. It joins with it to become part of a coded memorial quilt that critically examines the racist design of 'official' history, even as the latter deceptively evolves and sublimates its origins in the present era."
All Music Guide

"While the work takes on the feel of a stream of consciousness narrative, make no mistake: this is a composed, disciplined work. The inclusion of sections of operatic vocals by tenor Jeremiah Abiah and vocals by Roberts and her ensemble provide a rich, essential counterpoint to the abstraction of the instrumentals. This release is more focused than the first Coin Coin effort, representing a maturation of Roberts' conceptual arc."

"This is music of an exceptionally strong character."
The Arts Desk

COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libresMatana Roberts  CD / 2x10" / DL
Yanqui U.X.O.Godspeed You! Black Emperor   CD / 2x180gLP / DL

PLEASE NOTE: Due to a printing error, the otherwise quite beautiful and resplendent first pressing of this LP (in Oct 2013) did not contain a track listing in the album artwork. The song titles were supposed to appear on the vinyl labels themselves, but something went wrong and we didn't catch it. Our apologies for the inconvenience. If you ended up with one of these first pressing copies (thank you!) we invite you to download one of the following PDFs which you can print out, trim to a square (optional but encouraged) and insert into your LP package. The album tracklist is also accessible by scrolling down on this page.
PDF: CST098 Songs (Letter Size)
PDF: CST098 Songs (A4 Size)

Matana Roberts is a Chicago-born, New York City-based saxophonist and sound experimentalist, a past member of the BRC: Black Rock Coalition and the AACM: The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, whose innovative work has forged new conceptual approaches to considering narrativity, history, and political expression within improvisatory structures.

COIN COIN Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile is the much-anticipated new installment of Roberts' unique and forward-looking project. Guided by an aesthetic practice she has dubbed 'panoramic sound quilting' (partly in homage to the literal handicraft heritage of her patrilineal line), COIN COIN finds Roberts conjuring some of the most nuanced, thoughtful and substantial American liberation music of the 21st century.

COIN COIN has also been a profoundly generous and collaborative process for Roberts, who has been developing various chapters of the COIN COIN cycle with a wide range of musicians from diverse backgrounds over many years. The hugely acclaimed Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres was the culmination of two years of regular visits to Montréal and featured fifteen musicians assembled from that city's out-jazz, experimental and avant-rock scenes. Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile was developed for a more intimately woven New York jazz sextet and was recorded with this group in late 2012, following several years of local and international performances of the piece with this line-up.

Mississippi Moonchile takes the next leap forward in Roberts' iconoclastic and complex project of memory and recuperation, where historical and contemporary musical tropes, fragmentary spoken and sung narratives, and Matana's cascading alto saxophone are supported by prodigiously talented players on piano (Shoko Nagai), trumpet (Jason Palmer), double bass (Thomson Kneeland), drums (Tomas Fujiwara) and operatic tenor voice (Jeremiah Abiah). While demarcated by 18 titles and track IDs, the album presents an uninterrupted, incantatory swirl of through-composed music, where thematic structure and free improvisation are propelled in continual and fluid co-existence.

While Chapter One was marked by more defined set pieces, stark juxtapositions, and the epic cacophony of a sprawlingly unconventional big band, Chapter Two unfolds as a cohesive album-length piece unto itself, channeling the drama and catharsis of Gens de couleur libres into something more measured and circumscribed, playing with notions of dignity, rarefaction and restraint. The inclusion of a male operatic singer contributes significantly to the tone and tension of Mississippi Moonchile in this respect, and operates as a fascinating foil to Roberts' own voice, which alternates between splintered 'wordspeak' and deeply soulful singing. The six players are in a perpetual motion of coalescence and divergence, where melodic themes, occasional ostinato passages, and variously deployed literal voices ("There are some things I can't tell you about…") serve to rally the overriding theme of individual narratives and personal expressions as struggles with, celebrations of, and threads within collective history. The contortions of empowerment, pride, shame, suffering, eulogy, empathy, liberation and transcendence are Matana's raw material in the broadest and most specific senses; she has given this raw material another beautiful and compelling shape in the second chapter of the COIN COIN story.

Thanks for listening.

Release date: 1 October 2013
Running time: 48:32

Packaging notes
CD comes in a custom gatefold jacket printed on thick 24pt. paperboard with a printed CD dust sleeve. LP is pressed on 180 gram virgin vinyl at Optimal (Germany) and comes in a heavyweight jacket with black poly-lined audiophile dust sleeve, credit insert, pull-out art poster and download code for 320 kbps MP3 copy of the album.

1. invocation
2. humility draws down blue
3. all nations
4. twelve sighed
5. spares of the world
6. secret coven
7. river ruby dues
8. confessor haste
9. amma jerusalem school
10. for this is
11. responsory
12. the labor of their lips
13. was the sacred day
14. lesson
15. woman red racked
16. thanks be you
17. humility draws down new
18. benediction

Matana Roberts: alto saxophone, vocals, conduction, wordspeak
Shoko Nagai: piano, vocals
Jason Palmer: trumpet, vocals
Jeremiah Abiah: operatic tenor vocals
Thomson Kneeland: double bass, vocals
Tomas Fujiwara: drums, vocals

All compositions by Matana Roberts (c) (p) 2013 caprustha/BMI except “river ruby dues”, “woman red racked” and “benediction.”: arrangements based on traditional American folk songs.

Excerpt of Fannie Lou Hammer's speech at the 1968 Democratic National Convention used in “was the sacred day”. Operatic vocals text arranged and conducted by M. Roberts, composed by Joseph D. Howard (b. 1873 – d. 1952).

Recorded by Radwan Moumneh at Systems II Studios, Brooklyn NY, 28-29 November 2012. Mixed by Radwan Moumneh at Thee Hotel2Tango, Montreal QC, January 2013. Mastered by Harris Newman at Greymarket, Montreal QC.

Artwork by Matana Roberts, assisted by Evan McKnight. Front cover photo by Hooks Brothers, 164 Beal Street, Memphis TN, 1939.