Troy Roberts - an interview before Sopot Jazz Festival 2017


You were born in Perth, Australia. Has the fact of not coming from the States affected a lot your career if you compare it to your fellow musicians from New York or Chicago?

On one hand, I would say yes. I think many musical things that are commonplace in NYC are held in higher regard, or are more exotic in a remote location such as Perth, West Australia. On the other hand, I would say no, as who is to say that I wouldn’t still have the drive and desire to do what I do if I were born in the US?

You are currently based in New York. Was moving there a must in order to be able to fully develop your career?

I developed musically quite well before moving to New York, but not only have I developed further since moving here, my work has been much better acknowledged since moving here. I’m very fortunate to be playing with many of my heroes as well as meeting many new musical giants, which came as a result of working and living in New York City. So yes, in hindsight, it was a must in order to further develop my career.

During your growing up, what were the meetings or moments that influenced you the most as a musician and as a human being?

Aside from my incredible parents, my Dad’s great record collection, and seeing and working with many great local musicians, there were many influential people in my musical upbringing. But two that immediately come to mind are: firstly, my mentor and saxophone teacher during my undergraduate studies, Graeme Lyall, and secondly, jazz trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist James Morrison, whom I had the pleasure of recording and touring the world with at a very young age. Both of these people taught me a lot about music, individuality, and life through guidance, love and most importantly, humor.

While learning and getting ready for the life of a professional musician, you were gaining awards and were getting recognition from juries, magazines etc. Have those facts made your carrier much easier, it did speed up things?

I don’t know if these accomplishments sped anything up, but they certainly encouraged me to continue on this path of being a professional musician.

You are featured e.g. in the Jeff „Tain” Watts' group and in the Joey DeFrancesco's band. Could you tell please how it is to play with them and what do you enjoy especially while performing with those guys?

I enjoy their absolute mastery of what they do, and I am honored to have the opportunity to musically converse with these creative giants whom I grew up listening to. Although these are two contrasting groups, the thing they have in common is that everything they play or compose is so strong in soul, passion and conviction.

You performed several times at the extremely large events, like International Jazz Day. What are your memories connected with those concerts?

I have many beautiful memories of performing at International Jazz Day, both in 2012 (NYC) and 2014 (Osaka). The spirit of freedom, expression_ and inclusion was overwhelming, and I had the chance to meet, share the stage, and hang out with many of my musical idols. It is so beautiful to see so many musical greats all meeting with each other in mutual admiration.

You lead a number of your own groups: Nu-Jive 5, a quartet, an organ trio... Do these bands present a similar creative idea or they let you explore different musical grounds?

They are definitely designed to let me explore different musical grounds. My groups are in no way similar.

Putting out your music at Greg Osby's Inner Circle Records, can you tell why you chose this record label? What are the ways it can help you progress in your music-making?

Greg has a vision that comes from many years of experience with large labels. Being with Inner Circle Music allows me to still be in control of, and maintain ownership of my art, but with the support of an experienced jazz artist, and a community of people who are there to help each other by sharing their experiences and knowledge of the ever-changing music business.

What is currently the most important or the most personal project you work on?

My most personal project is currently my Nu-Jive band. I’ve released two records with this band, and am working on a third after a long hiatus due to my other musical focuses. It’s a unique project that blurs the lines across many musical styles in encompass my many musical interests.