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Troy Roberts, Nu-Jive

There is Nothing Jive About Troy Roberts

Troy Roberts began playing the saxophone at age 13, and was granted an early entrance into The West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) just two years later. During this time, he won the PJS Encouragement Award for two consecutive years, performed at the 2000 Olympics, The Manly Jazz Festival, and other shows around Australia with the West Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra. In 2001 he graduated with a Bachelor of Music (Jazz Performance) degree at the young age of 19, winning the acclaimed Bob Wyllie Jazz Scholarship, the Melville Toyota Jazz Scholarship and the James Morrison Jazz Scholarship.

The following year he completed an Honors Degree on a student exchange program at the University of Miami, studying with Ron Miller, Gary Keller, Whit Sidner, James Moody, Dave Leibman and Frank Foster. During this time, he also won 2 Downbeat Awards (“Outstanding Soloist” and “Best Group Performance”) and performed with many great American musicians such as Ernesto Simpson, Kevin Mahogany and Silvano Monasterios. Troy returned to Australia in 2003 to record live at the Sydney Opera House on James Morrison’s album and DVD, “On The Edge”, which was immediately proceeded by 2 European tours with Morrison.

Troy recorded his debut album Soul Garbage (Morrison Records) and VOID’s debut album and DVD before traveling to the U.S.A. in 2005 where he acquired a Masters degree and taught mostly jazz saxophone at the University of Miami, and was the recipient of the Downbeat “Best Soloist Award” for 2005 and 2006. He commenced 2006 with performances at the I.A.J.E. (International Association of Jazz Educators) Conference in New York with the “Bop Brothers Jazz Sextet”, 3 European tours with Morrison, and VOID’s 1st European tour. Winning yet another 2 Downbeat Music Awards, 2007 was a busy year, with two successful USA tours, including performances and television appearances in Texas, L.A., San Fransisco, Santa Barbara, Miami, the I.A.J.E. Conference, NYC and headlining the Houston International Jazz Festival. VOID was also the proud recipient of the 2007 WAMI Award for Best Original Jazz Act.

Now with the release of his 4th endeavor Nu-Jive, Roberts explores the funky side of jazz with songs that range from contemporary to groove to modern jazz tensions.

“Chiver Town” opens the festivities like blazing guns in a western shootout, Roberts comes out of the gate with a powerful entrance that segues into a groovin’ vibe punctuated by drummer David Chiverton. “Brotherlation” is 8 minutes of sheer joy with 16th note phrases that build the energy with strong motivic development; this cut is sure to please the most avid jazzer.

Roberts has created a journey with Nu-Jive, including interludes like “Nu-Jive Interlude,” a swirling palate cleaner to get the listener connected in for the explosive “Shavon.” Traversing complex rhythmic terrain compelled by hits, stops and feel changes, Roberts keeps the listener intrigued with long flowing angular lines that build in complexity and intensity. Silvano Monasterios (keys) adds quick arpeggiated fender Rhoades lines, accentuated by the solid rhythm section of Eric England (bass) and David Chiverton (drums).

An introspective “Eclipse” shows the tender and delicate side of Roberts playing, muscular enough to be effective, but a quixotic mixture of illusion and reality as the composition transitions from a ballad feel to a double time feel giving the cut a propulsion, while still keeping the vibe intact.

While jazz is so strongly identified as swing, it is nice to see the next gen carving out their sound and ideas. Roberts, along with his well-equipped ensemble, is certainly up to the task - creating a jazz record that employs great playing and abundant ideas. Roberts though young in age, certainly has an arsenal of abilities under his belt, and has the makings and foundation of a lasting great saxophonist. Versatile in style, with a strong grasp of yesterday and today, he is a force to be reckoned with no matter the setting. He is more than one to watch, he is one to follow closely.

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Geannine Reid