For Troy Roberts, a New York Australian, it has become a good tradition to give listeners a new album every year. 2019 was no exception. Unlike previous works, Tales & Tones (2017) and Nu Jive Perspective (2018), published by Inner Circle Music, his new album, Days Like These, was released under the logo of Toy Robot Music, the musician’s label, whose title is very transparent in its initials. The difference is more significant: this time Troy preferred the trio format, moreover the organ trio. In three tracks, he is played by the outstanding master of the electric organ, Joey DeFrancesco, in whose ensemble Troy has been playing for four years, and in the rest – the young, talented, but so far less famous Emmett Cohen, whom Roberts met in Miami when Emmett was a university student, where Troy taught. Behind the drum kit on all the tracks is another Roberts “employer,” the highly experienced Jeff “Tain” Watts, with whom Roberts has been playing for five years.
Five original compositions, three tastefully rethought covers and an hour and a quarter of sound are enough to appreciate the skill of the tenor saxophonist and composer Troy Roberts, unless, of course, you listen to it for the first time. For those who already know this musician, Days Like These is a new portion of bright and talented music, great aesthetic pleasure from playing Roberts and his famous partners. Especially nice to hear Roberts along with DeFrancesco will be the Minskers, who just recently could see them performing at the “Jazz Days at the Town Hall” as part of the DeFrancesco Trio. In “Why Was I Born,” (Jerome Kern), Joey appears in all the splendor of his skill and temperament, even slightly putting Roberts in the background. The second organist, Emmet Cohen, is not so violently “pulling the blanket over himself”, and here Roberts is already unfolding at full power, both in tempo and in ballad plays. Perhaps, in terms of performance technique and sounding, he has few equal today even on the American stage supersaturated with talents. My personal favorite of the album was his composition “Jack The Sipper,” reminiscent of a more funky repertoire of previous Roberts’ projects under the general name Nu Jive. The Days Like These program is more mainstream, so it is for lovers of this direction that I recommend paying attention to the new work of Troy Roberts.