by Sylvannia Garutch
Every generation there are musicians that standout, those that show a versatility in their playing and offer a robust sound and spark that ignites the listener. In the saxophone category, two such names seem to continuously rise to the top. Joshua Redman and now Troy Roberts. Two-time Grammy nominated Australian saxophonist and composer Troy Roberts was clearly also recognized by two other veteran jazz outfits Joey DeFrancesco’s new quartet, ‘The People,’ Joey DeFrancesco Trio and The Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts Quartet, as he is a member of both touring groups and keeps a daunting schedule of travel across the globe.
Nu-Jive Perspective is Roberts 8th record as a leader and this outing is getting back to the beginning of Roberts recording roots with his longtime brothers in music Tim Jago: guitar; Silvano Monasterios: keyboard; Eric England: bass; and Dave Chiverton on drums. The group is electric, literally and allegorically, their sound is deeply based in groove and has a distinctly contemporary overtone. Roberts’ tone is darkly hued in rich flavorsome coloring and his ability to build upon motifs is stunning, not to mention when he wants to let go, his bombastic adventuresome flurries are still rooted firmly in the melody making the listen even more winsome.
These qualities are ever present in “Through the Eyes of Psychoville,” which certainly lends to a title that one would expect to hear the unconventional. Roberts delivers, his performances are awe-inspiring; his mastery of his horn is exuberant and highly skilled. The tune rolls through a multitude of compositional styles, from contemporary to straight-ahead to deeply felt groove-based excursions. Each section gives a new facet of Roberts playing, and this cat certainly has a vast bag to pull from and the chops to pull it off. I can’t stop at just Roberts, bassist England is galvanized, his lines and driving feel are sheer shred worthy. Drummer Chiverton is right there to support and answer England and the two create the foundation of the Nu-Jive sound. Monasterios has always captured the ear and is certainly one of the best imports from Venezuela to the American scene, he is noted for his lyrical style and use of creative colorizations, in this setting we get to hear his adventurous side. Flurries of notes and quick paced craftsmanship equate to fine improvisations. Not to be missed is guitarist Jago, his electrified sound swerves from in the pocket contemporary sounds to distorted improvisational sounds that ignite. This track is not to be missed in the exploration of the Nu-Jive Perspective.
Another noteworthy tune is “Slideshow,” a tune with high value melody work Roberts has a distinctly contemporary sound on this album with modern sensibilities that harken the work of Hancock and Corea, which Roberts has noted as influences, these qualities can certainly be ascertained in the quality of the performances and the stylized writing. Roberts is assured in his playing; his lines are certain and resonate modernized bopish lines a top the groove based feel. Monasterios like Corea creates interesting colors that catapult and interact with Roberts seamless solo lines. England puts forth a nimble solo that digs deep into the groove and additionally offers creative lines, as Chiverton accents and punctuates his solo with mastery. Monasterios solo captures an affected keyboard sound that lays nicely into track, his soloing on the tune is adroit and lyrical, while again Chiverton peppers the solo with progressive pushes and hits.
Roberts has done it again, Nu-Jive Perspective is another look at the multi-faceted talents that Roberts has at his command. If you have not heard of Roberts before now, where have you been hiding out. May I recommend you delve into his entire discography, as each one has its own unique look at a versatility of ideas and the saliency of Roberts love of many jazz idioms. Roberts is crackerjack in any style he puts his horn to, his ear is adventurous, his hands dexterous and his creative writing is toothsome. Joined by a band of brothers in music, and a turn back to his roots of recording, his focus on modernism, groove and voguish jazz sounds is a step forward in cementing Roberts as a versatile and creative force in the jazz colloquial.