Saxophonist Cath Roberts works in a variety of ensembles exploring free improvisation, composed music and the territories that lie between them. Originally from Northamptonshire and based in London since 2005, she has strong links with improvisers from the north of England, who have become her closest collaborators. It is these connections that form the basis of her current working group, the quintet Sloth Racket. The band grew out of Ripsaw Catfish, Cath’s long-standing duo with guitarist Anton Hunter, and adds Sam Andreae (tenor saxophone), Seth Bennett (bass) and Johnny Hunter (drums). Cath’s compositions for Sloth Racket combine written fragments with graphic notation to explore the balance between freedom and structure. The results range across musical territories from fiery free jazz, to minimal improv textures, to deep grooves: the ensemble’s debut album ‘Triptych’ was hailed as ‘an important contribution to the ongoing debate about spontaneity versus form’ by Daniel Spicer in Jazzwise. Cath was Artist in Residence at Lancaster Jazz Festival 2016, where she premiered a set of new music with an expanded ten-piece version of Sloth Racket (later named Favourite Animals).
Cath is a member of the Madwort Sax Quartet, Anton Hunter’s Article XI, the eight-piece improvising saxophone group Saxoctopus and the collaborative quartet Word Of Moth. Her contemporary jazz septet Quadraceratops released an album on Manchester label Efpi Records in 2014 to critical acclaim, and she regularly appears in other ad-hoc groupings of improvisers. When not performing Cath runs LUME with Dee Byrne. LUME activities to date have included concert series, tours and LUME Festival, and they release music from LUME projects on an offshoot record label, Luminous.
– January 2017
Photo by me.