Beginnings Part 4 supplement — An Invocation from Matana Roberts

Matana Roberts.  Image via .

Matana Roberts.  Image via

Jazz saxophonist and composer Matana Roberts creates music she describes as Panoramic Sound Quilting.  “I have a deep interest in American history and old oral traditions developed, deconstructed, merged together often times through profoundly contradictory means.” 

Her music “aims to expose the mystical roots and channel the intuitive spirit-raising traditions of American creative expression while maintaining a deep and substantive engagement with narrativity, history, community and political expression within improvisatory musical structures.”

The second chapter in her Coin Coin series, Mississippi Moonchile, is indexed by tracks, but is in fact one continuous take.   The performance is both composed and improvised.  It’s worth noting here that the opening of this 50-minute work is titled “Invocation.”  (The final piece is titled “Benediction.”)

Note how this invocation clears out space.  The rattling percussion and vocal swells suggest a moment of ritual purification.  The space in which the musicians are about to perform must first be claimed by them.  That purification in turn readies the audience, driving out distractions and settling them into the sacred space of listening.

Thank you for reading.