For his eighth outing as a leader, the Australian-born saxophonist and composer Troy Roberts didn’t cut corners on hiring accompanists. Bassist Robert Hurst spent time in the ensembles of both Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and has recorded with Diana Krall and many others, in addition to cutting several albums as a leader. Venezuelan pianist Silvano Monasterios has appeared on a few of Roberts’ previous releases and also boasts a lengthy list of live and studio credits. And then there’s drummer extraordinaire Jeff “Tain” Watts, in whose current quartet Roberts is a regular featured member.
The reason it’s important to note the other personnel up front is because each musician plays such a pivotal role in the execution of this music. Each of the nine tracks on Tales & Tones (six penned by Roberts) bears a distinct sonic stamp, calling upon players equally capable of both command and connection. Roberts, who plays tenor and soprano, doesn’t often give turn signals when switching up a tempo or stopping short during a solo to spill out a volley of fractured notes; he needs to rely on the others to intuit those shifts—and, often, to take the initiative.