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Matana Roberts / Sam Shalabi / Nicolas Caloia: Feldspar

Eyal Hareuveni By

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An exceptional improvised meeting between American saxophonist Matana Roberts, known for her Coin Coin project—Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres and Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile (Constellation, 2011 and 2013)—and two left-of-center, free improvisers from the Canadian, Montreal scene—guitarist Sam Shalabi, known for his Middle-Eastern-tinged band Shalabi Effect and his orchestral works with Land of Kush, and double bassist Nicolas Caloia, who leads the improvising Ratchet Orchestra.

Feldspar, titled after Earth's rock formations, was recorded in studio in Montreal in 2011 and features the conflicting approaches of Roberts on one hand and Shalabi and Caloia on the other. Roberts improvised articulations are rooted in the blues and modern jazz legacies and search for a linear structure that stresses a strong theme, often a highly melodic one, while Shalabi and Caloia aim for associative, abstract textures based on patient shaping of sounds. On the first two pieces the improvised pieces are developed in two different, subversive courses with minimal effort to form an emphatic interplay. Only on the third piece "Galena" do these versatile musicians manage to establish a common ground for an intense free improvisation that gains power and volition as it progresses. The extended breathing techniques of Roberts, as well as her spare bluesy lines, match the sustained bow work of Caloia and the thick, metallic lines of Shalabi.

On the quiet and slow "Anatase" and "Opal" Shalabi and Caloia ornament Roberts spare bluesy flights with shifting pulse and dark, thorny guitar lines, injecting elements of tension and risk taking to her leisured improvisations. "Cinnabar" features Shalabi contrasting the gentle sax voice of Roberts with cyclical, metallic sounds, while Caloia frames this sonic confrontation with a steady pulse.

The last, album-titled piece is the second where the three resourceful improvisers agree on a patient and ethereal course. Shalabi's light Middle-Eastern lines match the soulful playing of Roberts and both rely on the powerful pulse of Caloia.

A challenging meeting of opinionated improvisers.

Track Listing: Orpiment; Spinel; Galena; Anatase; Opal; Cinnabar; Feldspar.

Personnel: Matana Roberts: alto saxophone; Sam Shalabi: electric guitar; Nicola Caloia: double bass.

Title: Feldspar | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Tour De Bras


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