Friday, June 15, 2007

Matana Roberts Quartet - The Calling (Utech Records, 2007) ***


Good marks and bad marks for the free jazz label Utech Records. They get the good marks for their existence and for the risks they're willing to take. Bad marks because the sound quality of their - usually live - recordings is lower than what you can expect nowadays. And that's not a problem with this album only, the same problem manifests itself on other albums of the label. But enough complaints. Matana Roberts has her own quartet now, after having led her sax trio Sticks & Stones for the past years. She is now accompanied by Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet, Thomson Kneeland on bass and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. The band takes on a number of classics, such as Billy Holiday's "My Man", Sun Ra's "We Travel The Spaceways" and Armstrong's "Do You Know What It Means (to Miss New Orleans)", the latter piece obviously referring to the devastation created by hurricane Katrina. This band brings excellent free jazz, with lots op spaciousness and creative interplay, combined with quieter moments, yet it does not hesitate either to bring the core melodies in their traditional swing and bop-mode, or even to add a playful call-and-response between sax and cornet. In sum, a nice trip through jazz history brought from a modern free perspective. The quality of the performance makes the lack of sound quality even more of a shame.

3 comments:

Matana Roberts said...

Hi there,

That record came out in 2006, not 2007. It was meant to document some interesting NY musicians that I admire greatly, as well as my process at that time but is not a permanent quartet that I am currently working with on a regular basis.( NY saxophonist Matt Bauder was also in that configuration, though he is not on that record)

Sticks and Stones is currently on temporary hiatus due to all of our crazy busy schedules, but will be active again in the coming years. Thats a very special band that I hope to go to my grave with.

Lastly, I totally hear you on the sound quality, it was purely due to lack of funds on my end and Utech but I still felt that configuration important to document.

I have some upcoming releases near the close of the year and the beggining of next year that I am very happy about and I think you'll love them too.

Thank you so much for the support!
all the best!
Matana Roberts

Diego Bravo said...

The version of We Travel the Spaceways it's outstanding, saludos desde Chile

Diego Bravo said...

The version of We travel the spaceways it's outstanding, saludos desde Chile!