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Troy Roberts, Green Lights Review

Troy Roberts, Green Lights Review

Troy-Roberts-Green-Lights-SIR-CDWith Green Lights, Troy Roberts offers a recording that reflects his unyielding artistry and innovative spirit. This album showcases his virtuosity as a saxophonist and acumen as a composer and ensemble leader. Against the backdrop of a two-time GRAMMY nomination and collaborations with giants of jazz, Roberts crafts a ten-track album that resonates with both modern and contemporary jazz fans alike, marking a pivotal moment in his discography.

Born in Australia and now a fixture in New York’s vibrant jazz scene, Roberts has absorbed diverse musical influences that echo throughout Green Lights. The album reflects a journey marked by geographic and musical migrations, evident in the eclectic styles that pepper each track. The inspiration drawn from the Wayne Shorter documentary, Zero Gravity, illuminates Roberts’ approach to the album, with the notion of “green lights” symbolizing his creative freedom and exploration.

Roberts’ journey through different jazz landscapes on each track, and even within his soloing on each track, is palpable. The shift from the electric vibes of his project ‘Nu-Jive’ to the more acoustic and straight-ahead jazz of Green Lights demonstrates his versatility. This album melds complex harmonic colors and rhythms, creating a sound that balances modern with contemporary hues deeply rooted in straight-ahead jazz traditions.

The album’s success is a testament to the synergy among the musicians. John Patitucci, a long-time acquaintance, brings a profound depth with his bass lines. Paul Bollenback, renowned for his fluid guitar playing, and Jimmy Macbride, a dynamic drummer, complete this ensemble, transforming Roberts’ compositions into vivid musical conversations between kindred spirits.

The opening track, “Green Lights,” reflects this conversation with its engaging interplay and Roberts’ expressive saxophone leading the dialog. Bollenback’s guitar adds warmth, while Patitucci’s bass and Macbride’s drums establish a captivating groove that underpins the whole interchange.

“The Question” is a prime example of the ensemble’s innate sense of groove as they effortlessly shift time signatures, with Roberts’ composition providing a platform for each musician to shine. The blend of straight and swing rhythms showcases their versatility. “By Your Side” is a beautifully crafted waltz that exudes a traditional jazz feel, with Roberts’ modern and contemporary ideas blending into expressive phrases that speak from the heart.

“Jive Dumpling” is a vibrant mix of funk and contemporary jazz; the ensemble’s ability to convey a groove that navigates through the many textures of Robert’s composition gives their conversation a cohesive and engaging storyline. “Stretch Armstrong” finds the story setting in a straight-ahead jazz blues form. Bollenback’s guitar speaks in both single notes and chordal sentences. Roberts’ solo is focused on keeping an idea flowing through many variations and possibilities. This is an outstanding display of Roberts’ vast vocabulary.

Green Lights reflects a blend of global jazz influences, from American to Australian, showcasing Roberts’ ability to transcend geographical and musical boundaries. This album is another avenue for Roberts discography and the modern jazz landscape through innovative compositions and stellar ensemble musicianship.

Each track weaves a unique emotional vibe, showcasing the ensemble’s clarity in translating complex sounds into easy-to-follow segments. The compositional parameters of each track provide a vibrant setting for the ensemble to tell their story. The technical skill of each musician shines through in the intricate dialog, making Green Lights a showcase of top-tier jazz performances. The production on Green Lights is polished, highlighting the nuanced interplay between the musicians. Each instrument is given space to breathe, contributing to a rich, immersive listening experience.

Green Lights is a vibrant recording for Troy Roberts that combines technical mastery with emotional depth, offering a refreshing take on mixing modern and contemporary jazz. With Green Lights, Roberts delivers an album that is musical and rich with artistic integrity.  It’s a must-listen for anyone interested in today’s jazz.


Troy Roberts: Website

Artist Name

Troy Roberts

Album Title

Green Lights

Release Date

May 10, 2024


Toy Robot Music

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