Tales & Tones (Inner Circle Music)

Troy Roberts

Released January 5, 2017

DownBeat Four-and-a-Half-Star Review






Hailing from the remote location of Perth, West Australia, saxophonist and composer Troy Roberts has received numerous awards including 3 consecutive DownBeat Jazz Soloist Awards, a Grammy Nomination medal, and was the only Australian semi-finalist in the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. Graduating with a Bachelor of Music at the young age of 19, he has performed around Europe and the US extensively with artists such as James Morrison, Aretha Franklin, Christian McBride, Sammy Figueroa, Dave Douglas, Orrin Evans and Kurt Elling to name a few, and also completed a Masters Degree at The University of Miami. In 2012, he shared the stage in an international septet comprised of jazz giants Wayne Shorter, Richard Bona, Vinnie Colaiuta and Zakir Hussein for Herbie Hancock’s launch of the first ever International Jazz Day at The UN, NYC. More recently he was also part of Hancock’s 2014 International Jazz Day held in Osaka, Japan performing with jazz luminaries such as Gregory Porter, Marcus Miller, Roy Hargrove, Esperanza Spaulding, Sheila E, John Scofield and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Troy is based in New York City and maintains a busy performance and recording schedule around the globe with some of the greatest jazz artists of today. He’s a regular member of The Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts Quartet, The Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts ‘Blue 5’, is also the newest member of Joey DeFrancesco’s new quartet, ‘The People’, and is currently celebrating his 7th record as a leader.  Roberts is adroit in an array of musical moods here with an engaging tone that shines through on every tune, whether it’s a ballad or a swing feel. The mostly original compositions on the effort are outstanding, as are the wonderfully arranged covers of tunes by Bernie Miller, Billy Strayhorn and John Sangster. Helping to propel the music forward are the fantastic talents of Silvano Monasterios on piano, Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums and Robert Hurst on bass, with each providing great performances throughout the set. Roberts is a tremendous player as this superb production makes clear.

Track Listing:

1. Decoration (Troy Roberts) 08:25

2. Trams (Troy Roberts) 07:21

3. Rivera Mountain (John Sangster) 06:17

4. Bernie’s Tune (Bernie Miller) 06:29

5. Cotu Chi Chi Chi (Troy Roberts) 06:04

6. Take the “A” Train (Billy Strayhorn) 06:35

7. Pickapoppy (Troy Roberts) 05:05

8. Mr. Pinononnk (Troy Roberts) 07:22

9. Boozy Bluesy (Troy Roberts) 08:57


Troy Roberts: tenor & soprano saxophones
Silvano Monasterios: piano
Robert Hurst: upright bass
Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts: drums

Recorded March 4 – 5, 2016, at Sanctuary Studios, Easton PA

Produced by Troy Roberts

Engineered by Danush Dopierala

Mixed & Mastered by Dave Darlington

Photography by Jamie Cabreza

Artwork by Stephanie Tiangco


What a difference a bass player makes. Troy Roberts’ last album, 2015’s Secret Rhymes, made an impressive case for the young Australian tenor player, both in terms of his complete mastery of the instrument and his prowess as an improviser. His rhythmic dynamism, particularly when playing with drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, was particularly striking. And yet, Tales & Tones manages to make that achievement seem minor by comparison.

For starters, Roberts has expanded his purview, doing more of the writing this time around and adding soprano saxophone to his arsenal. He still continues to excel at finding fresh ways into familiar tunes—his “Take The ‘A’ Train” convincingly refreshes one of the most over-roasted chestnuts in jazz—but there’s even more pleasure to be had in hearing him work variations on his own themes, from the modal twists in “Pickapoppy” to the post-modern bebop of “Decoration.” But the most significant difference with Tales & Tones is that the energy levels are way, way up. Roberts is working with essentially the same band, with Watts again on drums and longtime collaborator Silvano Monasterios on piano, but instead of Chris Smith, this album has Robert Hurst on bass, and it’s hard not to suspect that’s the key. Anyone who recalls Hurst’s work with Watts in Branford Marsalis’ band will have no trouble recognizing the chemistry here, and the way it energizes Roberts, from the funky swagger of “Trams” or the offhand virtuosity burning beneath the rhythmic games of “Boozy Bluesy.”

J.D. Considine (DownBeat)