Saxophonist and composer Troy Roberts continues to present music that retains a distinctive strength and originality, still vastly rooted in tradition, while firmly grounded in new perspectives. Hailing from the remote location of Perth, West Australia, Roberts has received numerous awards including 3 consecutive DownBeat Jazz Soloist Awards, a Grammy Nomination medal, and was the only Australian semi-finalist in the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. Graduating with a Bachelor of Music at the young age of 19, he has performed around Europe and the US. Completing a Master's Degree at The University of Miami. Currently Roberts is based in New York City and is a regular member of The Jeff "Tain" Watts Quartet, The Jeff "Tain" Watts Blue 5, and is also the newest member of Joey DeFrancesco's new quartet, The People. This is Roberts seventh record as a leader, Tales & Tones (Inner Circle Music), contains nine songs and a powerful quartet consisting of: Silvano Monasterios on piano, Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums and on bass, Robert Hurst. The groups energy is outstanding on the six Roberts originals and three arrangements of standards.
As one would imagine, the fun of this record is the abundance and playfulness of the interactions between the four musicians in a language saturated with polyrhythms. This saxophonist has a big robust sound and his virtuosostic command of his instrument in very impressive. "Decoration" is an excellent example of the ensembles chemistry. With Roberts on soprano, Watts and Hurst provide an exceptionally swinging pulse for exploration. With Monasterios taceting for Roberts solo, the interaction between the three is obvious and upfront. The conversation is spirited and Watts and Roberts rhythmic conversation is a real treat. Monasterios takes the second solo, his drive is in the pocket and his lines are clear and with intention. Watts is conversing right away, and the two proceed to carry on an intense conversation that is deeply gratifying. Hurst takes the third solo with nice lower and mid register statements, with Watts and Monasterios providing much commentary. Watts solo is powerful and full of drum colors and rhythmic motifs.
One of the best places to hear a group interact is on a well-known standard, and Roberts and his cohorts shine on Billy Strayhorn's "Take The 'A' Train." The arrangement is excellent and full of modern pulse changes and angular lines. Here Roberts tenor playing is front and center as he takes us on a journey of beautiful melodies to elaborate flurries and climaxes. Roberts is a master at increasingly building the energetic feeling of his solos with effortless virtuosity. Monasterios moves seamlessly between the pulse changes and creates shifting moods with seemingly unfettered abandon, yet his faithfulness to form is always clear. With the use of various feels and pulses, this arrangement is a wonderfully swinging selection the displays all four players impressive playing.
Tales & Tones is another outstanding project by the West Australian, saxophonist and composer. His creativity and the chemistry between the band members makes this project truly special and an album certainly well worth augmenting any music collection.
Decoration; Trams; Rivera Mountain; Bernie’s Tune; Cotu Chi Chi, Chi; Take the ‘A’ Train; Pickapoppy; Mr. Pinononnk; Boozy Blues.
Troy Roberts: tenor, soprano saxophones; Silvano Monasterios: piano; Robert Hurst: acoustic bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums.