Sep 20, 2019
Wallace Roney has been a significant force on the scene ever since he emerged at Ali’s Alley at the age of sixteen with Philly Joe Jones. Roney has been featured on impressive work with McCoy Tyner, Dizzy Gillespie, Elvin Jones, Chick Corea, and Ornette Coleman. As a member of the Tony Williams Quintet, Wallace took on the responsibility of infusing the band with his fire and innovativeness and won the attention of his idol, Miles Davis. His long-standing association with the jazz icon culminated in the recording of the Grammy award-winning, Quincy Jones-conducted, Miles and Quincy Live at Montreux. Following Miles’ death, Roney paid tribute to his mentor by joining Davis’ former running partners Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Williams for a classic tribute album and tour as VSOP.
But Wallace has moved from beneath the shadow of Miles Davis to become his own uncompromising musician. Whether touring and recording with old friends like Lenny White, Patrice Rushen and Buster Williams (A Place in Time), or building new extended bands to bring to life Shorter’s long-shelved masterpiece “Universe”, Roney has proven he is his own man.
Just as so many other master musicians have sought new blood to keep their music fresh, Blue Dawn – Blue Nights, his new CD from HighNote, finds Roney in the role of mentor to a group of talented younger musicians. Saxophonist Emilio Modeste, pianist Oscar Williams II, bassist Paul Cuffari, and his fifteen year old nephew, drummer Kojo Odu Roney contribute not only their talent, but their material to this hot new release. For all the new talent and sounds, there is a throw-back quality to Blue Dawn – Blue Nights as well - the album was recorded by engineer Maureen Sickler at the board of Rudy Van Gelder’s legendary New Jersey studio.
Wallace and I talked about the new CD, why he enjoys working with younger musicians, and his opinion of the much-discussed documentary about Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool. Musical selections from Blue Dawn – Blue Nights include "Wolfbane", "Why Should There Be Stars" and "Elliptical"plus "RJ" from VSOP's A Tribute to Miles.