Album Review: Stuff I Heard from Troy Roberts
Artist: Troy Roberts
Label: Toy Robot Music
Practically a one man show, Troy Roberts’ performance on soprano, alto and tenor saxophones is countered by his chord movements on the acoustic bass and electric bass. His recording Stuff I Heard becomes a dialogue between the instruments his plays supported by a backbeat from Jimmy MacBride on drums. With all original works featured on the program, Roberts creates a textural variety that showcases his skills as a versatile musician and composer.
“Lifeline” is a wonderful addition to Roberts repertoire. The tranquilizing aesthetics are smoothly orchestrated with Middle Eastern style accents and saxophone phrases that integrate complementing furls. His saxophone solo slinks gently as the notes nestle into the nooks and crannies of the chord progressions. Exploring the orchestral colors of the saxophone, the pensive mood of “Prayer of Hope” is a striking nocturne that expands in intensity and closes with a sombre sonorous. The changes in Robert’s emotive raptures are skillfully executed.
For “Rejekt,” Roberts channels the soul funk energy of his ensemble Nu-Jive, fusing spiraling blazes on the saxophone with the funky thumps of his bass and pumping beats of Jimmy MacBride’s drums. The interactive exchanges between Roberts and MacBride fly freely on “Solar Panels” and subside on the final track “The Comedian.” The closing number is a slow burner as Roberts’ layered saxophone parts entwine and intermingle, producing multiple voices all moving in the same direction towards expressing a bluesy rhapsody. One of Troy Roberts finest pieces on the recording.
Stuff I Heard is Roberts 12th album as a leader, featuring all original works written by him and developed from inspiration he has collected over the years. Roberts shows that he is moved by textures and conceptual patterns. Most of all, his music reflects his free spirit, exploring the characteristics of the instruments and experimenting on how they can come together to form textures and chord paradigms that expand conventional thought.
Troy Roberts – soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, acoustic and electric bass
Jimmy MacBride – drums