Troy Roberts : Nu-Jive: Nations United Review
Troy Roberts is a two-time GRAMMY nominated saxophonist and composer that has recorded with the legendary organist Joey DeFrancesco the iconic Van Morrison drummer Jeff’ Tain’ Watts and the modern big band sounds of Orrin Evans Captain Black Big Band. Roberts has fourteen albums as a leader that range from modern jazz to creative takes on standards. Roberts is fluent in fusion, funk, and modern jazz and always has a clear focus on the heritage of straight-ahead jazz as an overall influence. In 2009, Roberts formed NU-JIVE and is now releasing his latest album with the ensemble called Nu-Jive: Nations United, the band’s fourth studio album. The album title represents the various countries each member is from – The United States, Australia, Venezuela, India, The U.K., France, Ireland, and Portugal. The ten selections have styles and influences from musical cultures of Indian Classical music, West African polyrhythms, 20th Century Classical music, Venezuelan Merengue, Gospel, Reggae, Jazz, Soul, Funk, and R&B. NU-JIVE is Roberts on saxophone, guitarist Tim Jago, pianist, and keyboardist Silvano Monasterios, bassist Eric England and drummer David Chiverton.
“Tribes & Tribulations” properly displays Roberts’ compositional gifts and his performing talent. With a Soul, Funk, and R&B vibe, Roberts’ distinctive tenor sound rings clear. The composition has multiple sections and feels that are interesting and allow each member of the ensemble to shine. Roberts’ solo builds over the rhythmic undercurrent of Chiverton and England. His hard bop roots can be heard, but his rhythmic vocabulary and articulations are incredibly expressive and reach beyond those roots with clarity and power. Jago’s guitar solo is fluid and offered with a hint of distortion to fatten the tone. England’s solo reveals the bassist’s deft fluidity and facility in navigating the changes. Monasterios rounds out the solo section as he lays down a series of steady, driving figures that are never intrusive but build energy and power. Roberts’ creative writing and control of space are again on full display to restate the theme and in the ending figure.
“Five Nations” is a peaceful composition designed to sound like an obscure nursery rhyme. The flowing melody is presented by Roberts and Jago in their “Best Buddies” (which is Roberts’ and Jago’s title of their album together called the same from last year) saxophone/guitar interplay mode. Before 1722, the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee (an indigenous confederacy in northeast North America) was comprised of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca – which the English referred to as The Five Nations – The founders of whom are traditionally held to be Deganawidah (Great Peacemaker). Roberts and Jago share the solo space. Both are highly fluid and listen and interact with each other beautifully. This ensemble’s ability to listen and interact is its greatest asset and one that Roberts is fully aware of and builds upon. The interaction here between Roberts and Jago is fascinating in the way they revolve around each other and, as a unit, foster and maintain a tangible spontaneity, the presence of melody, and overall flow. The bandmates’ long-time chemistry undoubtedly accounts for the stability and respect this ensemble creates together.
Nu-Jive: Nations United is another outstanding project by the ever-creative composer and saxophonist Troy Roberts. Roberts’ NU-JIVE veers and swirls through multiple textures and styles and works together to pace the music elegantly and naturally. The ten songs offer various configurations for optimum expression for each member as they ebb and flow through the written and improvised sections of the compositions. The result is a jazz session filled with 3D proportions of interacting and layering to create something unique and meaningful that encompasses the jazz of today and beyond.
Nu-Jive: Nations United
June 10, 2022
Toy Robot Music