Baritone/alto 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 for the past decade, 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. This expanded line-up 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.

In addition to Sloth Racket, 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 is active as co-founder of LUME, the platform for original/improvised music that she runs with Dee Byrne. Taking place at venues around London including the prestigious Vortex Jazz Club, LUME gigs feature artists from across the UK creative music scene and beyond, acting as a space for new work and experimental music-making. Along with its regular concert series LUME has also produced a UK tour, and an afternoon of programming at the Barbican as part of the 2015 London Jazz Festival. They are currently working on the inaugural LUME Festival, as well as developing the LUME offshoot DIY record label Luminous.

– April 2016


Cath Roberts