In what I consider to be the cookie cutter or corporate assembly line of sax players that major labels are churning out with little if any discernible difference between the artists other than the ear candy the vast majority insist on playing we now have a new shooter.
Enter Troy Roberts and his latest release Nu-Jive 5!
In the straight ahead world there are but a half dozen players that are pushing the music forward and at the very least attempting to reinvent the harmonic wheel and Roberts is a name to remember and an artist that brings mad skills to the table. Substance and style will triumph over pretentiousness and ego every time. Roberts has a resume that will certainly make one sit up and take notice having shared the stage with such luminaries as Nicholas Payton, Orrin Evans and John Clayton. Nu-Jive 5 is Roberts fifth release as a leader and is brimming with vitality and that certain pop of originality that separates the "artist" from the "musician."
In a conversation with Motema guitarist Roni Ben-Hur he clarified the difference between influences and finding your own voice and then developing your own signature sound. Clearly Roberts hears music on a higher plateau than most. For a release of originals, Roberts compositions are perhaps slightly ahead of their time as I would have a hard time coming up with another tenor player that could pull off the same feat. "Ghetto-Rig Master" is soulful flavor served up straight from the heart, syncopated with complex changes in both meter and dynamics. The quintet is rounded out with Tim Jago on guitar, Eric England on bass, David Chiverton on on drums and Silvano Monasterios on keys. England does a master class on lyrical bass during the opening of "Night On The Town" followed by a contemporary influenced guitar solo that rivals most product coming out of major labels. The fusion of old school becoming new cool has never been laid down better. "Dr. Stein" is a more spatially oriented and harmonically challenging piece with a subtle yet intense lyrical sense of purpose.
While Troy Roberts is certainly the man holding court here, the quintet functions as one. A musical happy place between old and new schools with a new voice on tenor that may have influences that include the great Wayne Shorter but the flavor infused in this release is all Troy Roberts. One of the rare hat tricks in jazz is that of performer, educator, and composer. Roberts compositions are solid and over time will only get better.
4 out of 5 Stars. Make it 4.5 as this is one of the handful of post modern releases that is rock solid with a righteous groove that runs straight through.
Tracks: Convertible Burt; Ghetto-Rig-Master; Night On The Town; Team Jago; One Day Wonder; Master Ghetto Rig; Mono Stereos; Dr. Stein; CasaEnglewood; Stoner.
Troy Roberts: sax
Tim Jago guitar
Eric England: bass
David Chiverton: drums
Silvano Monasterios: keys
Special Guest - Mauricio Quiros on additional post production.