Troy Roberts’ “Days Like These” is dynamic jazz

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Australian saxophonist, Troy Roberts’ latest album, “Days Like These,” is a quietly dynamic exploration of jazz styles. The mix of big, shimmering drums with Roberts’ expressive saxophone and the flexible organ, all make the album one to listen to over and over. A song that shouldn’t be missed is “Jack the Sipper.”

“Days Like These” was released Sept. 8, 2019.

Roberts is considered a “young lion” of jazz. Meaning, despite his relative youth, he is accomplishing a great deal. Roberts had played with organist Joey DeFrancesco for four years and on two Van Morrison albums. Now, Roberts presents his own work on his own label, Toy Robot Music.

“Jack the Sipper” by Troy Roberts

The most brief drum roll begins the song. It is quickly replaced by the organ motif that could get shoulders swaying in the right setting.

Added to that before the song is even a quarter of the way complete is the rich tone of Roberts’ saxophone. Listeners will appreciate the way the organ mixes with the saxophone.

“Jack the Sipper” evokes the mood of late night and the places where jazz was born and came to live. Roberts changes things up by playing safely where audiences expect him to, and then, the next time the motif comes around, he gets a bit more wild. The same thing happens with the organ, which is less unexpected. The drums begin to clatter, shimmer and pound a bit louder, too. The way all the pieces of the soundscape fit together make the song one to listen to over and over.

After the big crescendos, the volume comes down, but the intensity stays. The saxophone and organ mimic each other’s notes and phrasing. The song ends on a sustained saxophone note and it sounds perfect in relation to the earlier parts of the song.

“Little Man You’ve Had a Busy Day” by Troy Roberts

The feel is almost gospel-like as the organ plays nuanced phrasing. Until the latter half of the song, the organ with all of its sustained and quick notes dominates the song. Toward the end, the saxophone picks its way through the soundscape and arrives large and brassy in the best ways. The organ rises to meet the horn’s sound. The result is a swell that seems to escape speakers. At the very end, the drums, organ and saxophone play in a low-key, but still dynamic way. The notes are held as listeners are held in suspense until the music fades out.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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