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Wallace Roney

Trumpeter Wallace Roney is a forward-thinking, post-bop musician with a healthy respect for the jazz tradition. Blessed with a warm yet plaintive trumpet tone and a lithe improvisational style, Roney's distinctive playing bears the influence of such legendary predecessors as Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, and Woody Shaw. While many of his albums display his talent for swinging and harmonically advanced acoustic jazz, others reveal his love of genre-bending, electrified funk, hip-hop, and soul.

Born in Philadelphia in 1960, Roney grew up alongside his younger brother, saxophonist Antoine Roney, and first displayed an interest in playing the trumpet around age four. As an adolescent, he enrolled in Philadelphia's Settlement School of Music where he studied trumpet privately with Sigmund Hering of the Philadelphia Orchestra. From there, he attended the Duke Ellington School of Music in Washington, D.C., where he gained further tutelage under Langston Fitzgerald of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

At the same time that Roney was receiving formal music training, his father was encouraging him to transcribe jazz solos of artists like Clifford Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, and others. Consequently, by his teens, Roney was an accomplished performer appearing regularly with both classical chamber groups and jazz ensembles. During this time, he took lessons with several trumpet luminaries including Gillespie, Clark Terry, and Woody Shaw. He also had the opportunity to play with pianist Cedar Walton's group.

After high school, Roney attended both Berklee School of Music in Boston and Howard University before relocating to New York City in the early '80s. Although he had already played with such luminaries as drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, replacing Wynton Marsalis, who was touring with Herbie Hancock's V.S.O.P. Quartet in 1981, Roney's initial time in New York was a struggle that also found him taking jobs in Latin dance and other kinds of bands to make ends meet. His break came in 1985 when he toured with Miles Davis alum/drummer Tony Williams, appearing on two Williams' albums -- Foreign Intrigue in 1985 and Civilization in 1986. Also around this time, he returned to Blakey's Jazz Messengers, this time replacing trumpeter Terence Blanchard. These esteemed gigs helped launch Roney into the upper echelons of the jazz scene.

As a solo artist, Roney made his debut in 1987 with the album Verses on Muse, featuring drummer Williams, saxophonist Gary Thomas, pianist Mulgrew Miller, and bassist Charnett Moffett. Several more Muse albums followed, all of them sophisticated showcases for Roney's adventurous, post-bop and modal-influenced style.

While Roney had long admired Miles Davis, an admitted influence who had mentored him on and off since first hearing him play at Davis' Carnegie Hall birthday gala in 1983, it was during Davis' famed 1991 tribute concert to Gil Evans at Montreux (later released as Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux) that he cemented his image as the heir apparent to Davis' legacy. Invited by Quincy Jones to participate in the concert, Roney sat next to Davis, trading solos on various Evans arrangements culled from such classic Davis releases as Birth of the Cool, Miles Ahead, and Sketches of Spain. Tragically, Davis, who was gravely ill at the time, died roughly a month after the Montreux concerts.

Following his high-profile show with Davis, Roney had established himself as a rising jazz star. He built upon this renown, signing a major-label deal with Warner Bros. and releasing several well-received albums with his brother, saxophonist Antoine Roney, and wife, pianist Geri Allen, including 1993's Misterios, 1995's Wallace Roney Quintet, and 1996's Village. Conversely, during this period Roney appeared on several of Allen's albums including 1997's Eyes in the Back of Your Head and 1998's The Gathering.

In 2000, Roney took a creative turn toward funk, hip-hop, and experimental post-bop with the album No Room for Argument on Concord. It was a direction he stuck with through several more albums for Highnote, including 2004's Prototype and 2005's Mystikal. Roney never fully retreated from straight-ahead jazz, though, and generally incorporated a variety of jazz styles on his albums. This varied approach is represented on such releases as 2007's Jazz, 2010's If Only for One Night, and 2012's Home.

In 2013, Roney delivered Understanding, his sixth album for Highnote. Also in 2013, he premiered his live version of saxophonist Wayne Shorter's "Universe," a long-form orchestral composition originally written for the Miles Davis' quintet in the late '60s. Abandoned for decades, "Universe" was eventually given to Roney, who spent much of the next several years touring the piece, which included playing an NPR broadcast performance at the 2014 Detroit Jazz Festival.

In 2015, Roney appeared as a member of the ensemble Powerhouse on the album In an Ambient Way, which also included saxophonist/producer Bob Belden, drummer Lenny White, keyboardist Kevin Hays, guitarist Oz Noy, and bassist Daryl Johns. A reworking of Miles Davis' 1969 recording In a Silent Way, In an Ambient Way was the brainchild of Belden, who died a month before its release. After Belden's passing, Roney took time off from his "Universe" activities to tour with Powerhouse. ~ Matt Collar
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Understanding

1. Understanding

2. Is That So?

3. Search For Peace

4. Gaslight

5. Red Lantern

6. Kotra

7. Combustible

8. You Taught My Heart To Sing

x

Track List: Home

1. Utopia

2. Home

3. Pacific Express

4. Plaza Real

5. Dawn

6. Evolution Of The Blues

7. Ghost Of Yesterday

8. Revive

x

Track List: If Only For One Night

1. Quadrant

2. If Only For One Night

3. Only With You

4. I Have A Dream

5. Metropolis

6. Let's Wait Awhile

7. I Love What We Make Together

8. F.M.S.

x

Track List: Jazz

1. Vater Time

2. Children Of The Light

3. Inflorescent

4. Fela's Shrine

5. Nia

6. Revolution: Resolution

7. Her Story

8. Stand

9. Un Poco Loco

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Track List: No Room For Argument

1. No Room For Argument

2. Homage & Acknowledgement (Love Supreme / Filles De Kilimanjaro)

3. Straight No Nothing

4. Metropolis

5. Christina

6. NeuBeings

7. Cygroove

8. He Who Knows

9. Virtual Chocolate Cherry

10. Midnight Blue

x

Track List: No Job Too Big Or Small

1. Melchizedek

2. Alone Together

3. Daahoud

4. Obsession

5. Blue In Green

6. Donna Lee

7. Solar

8. Float

9. Lost

10. For Duke

11. Love For Sale

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Chet Baker was lauded for sounding like the"Classic Miles. So many artist are villified for not standing still; like Marvin Stevie.Stop it let the artist create and we just listen, if you like fine , if not fine based only on artistic merit and content alone.
Report as inappropriate
He's boring. Just another guy playing notes with no melody and structure, going absolutely nowhere as a song.
Report as inappropriate
nrieser0
I don't think it's imitation. It seems to come from within Wallace. He just happens to have a similar viewpoint to Miles's. It's as though Miles was born later. Wallace is too good to dismiss. Just enjoy the second experience of Miles!
Report as inappropriate
mattisussman
Since when was sounding like Miles a bad thing? Good stuff!
Report as inappropriate
steve.rosen9
His Blue in Green fooled me. I thought it was Miles. Beautiful homage.
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steven3697
By far the most inventive and breathtaking l y spontaneous of the new generation of trumpet players. Wynton knows what he's going to play days before he plays it. Wallace is daring, lyrical, and will only get better.
Report as inappropriate
HEY MAN no better horn player than MD if your tones sound like the great MD okay that means your tones will have that great jazz sound keeep up the great tones and don't look back
Report as inappropriate
Wallace is killer. Give me a break on the Miles comparisons. Urban legend is Miles gave his horn to Wallace prior to his death. Pretty good endorsement, so give the man his due. He is his own man, and just stupid good. Enough with the criticism.
Report as inappropriate
Wallace is relatively young. Let's see how he develops in the coming years. Remember the progression Miles went through in his life. I look forward to Wallace breaking some new ground in the future but until then I will just enjoy his music
Report as inappropriate
Well, along with being non apologetic for who he appears to imitate, he does have decent chops, is creative and remarkably consistent in always playing well.
Report as inappropriate
I like Wallace...bu t he's not speaking...h e ' s simply repeating. You listen to jazz to hear what people have to say through music...and Wallace is in no way an original and clings too tightly to the legacy of Miles to really be saying anything for himself. One can be influenced by an artist but to be so influenced that your own thoughts seem to be overpowered by someone else' in Jazz is unacceptable . Be an original...b r a n c h out.
Report as inappropriate
I loved Miles. I miss Miles. When he was with us, I always wondered what kind of different thing Miles was gonna do next.I'm not nostalgic about music and Miles certainly wasn't either. He was a true improvisatio n a l artist and I believe he was jazz greatest visionary. So what if Wallace Roney just happens to sound similar. He's a excellent hornman in
Report as inappropriate
If you sound that much like one of the greatest, well good job. Just because someone creates a style doesn't mean you should not be influenced by them. This would cause later generations to forget about such legends. The best thing about Miles i think is he helped develop and perfect 4 NEW TYPES of jazz within his career. That is amazing.

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