Matana Roberts and the Balcony of Crystal Excellence.

12 06 2008

For the past week, I have been threatening to download Matana Roberts’ Chicago Project album from iTunes. After listening to all of the song samples, the exercise in futility became tougher, and then finally last night I bit the bullet and downloaded it. It really does help that the album is amazing.

The group consists of Matana on alto sax, Jeff Parker on guitar, Josh Abrams on bass, and Frank Rosaly on drums. There are also three duos between Roberts and tireless Chicago stalwart Fred Anderson (tenor) that are amazing. The songs are great, and the improvising is great, and the group dynamic is solid. It has been awhile since I’ve heard a jazz album like this. I love the interplay during the improvisations. It’s never about just one person, but the whole group shines. Even the writing brings out the individual talents of everyone involved, and the level of listening going on in the band is incredible on every track.

Roberts has a great sound that seems to be all her own, and it’s been built out of the jazz tradition. It’s great to hear that in creative/experimental jazz, there is still great new music coming out of the tradition. It’s not that the music sounds old (not at all), it’s just that you can tell Matana didn’t reject or ignore the old stuff (something awesome but unusual these days).

Also, it’s great to hear drummer Frank Rosaly. I met him on a trip to Chicago in ’04 with my brother. We went to the legendary Jazz Record Mart, and spent a long time looking through their massive collection of jazz, avant, classical, CDs and DVDs. On our way out, he quickly introduced himself to us when he noticed our purchases. He was cool as shit, and told us (even wrote down) all the cool stuff that was going on in the city that week. He told us about Jeff Parker’s trio gig with Jason Ajemian and Nori Tanaka, Tony Malaby’s gig at the Chicago Cultural Arts Center, and a jam at Myopic Books Basement with Josh Berman that he also played in, and we saw him out at almost all the gigs he told us about. It was that friendly vibe that we really loved about Chicago, and thats the feeling I get from the Matana Roberts Chicago Project album.

Also this album makes me want to grab my Real Book and jump back into the shed!

Now we are gearing up for the CD Release show on Saturday as the first concert in the Thompson/Grace Balcony Series. This show is FREE and ALL AGES, and will feature us playing an hour of music from 2:30 to 3:30pm. It will also feature a lawn for hanging, and lemonade for the masses! The series, started by Reggie Pace and Larri Branch, is all about creating a laid back party vibe for new creative music. B.Y.O.Picnic Basket and come hang out!

Also, our debut CD Music to Listen to Glows in the Dark By will be there for $10 a pop!

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2 responses

8 07 2008
Ten Questions with Matana Roberts « Glowing Realm

[…] She’s got a lot of great things going on.  I mentioned her new Chicago Project album here.  In addition to that, she has a fascinating experiment called the COIN COIN Project that deals […]

22 11 2008
frank rosaly

i remember that meeting at the record mart! great to hear you dig matana’s record!

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