Apr 2, 2020
Wallace Roney, one of the top trumpet players in the world today, died this week from complications from COVID-19. He was 59.
Roney was one of the "Young Lions" that invigorated straight ahead jazz in the 1990's. Chosen by Miles Davis as his heir apparent, he was a close friend and collaborator with Miles from 1985 until Davis' death in 1991. He spent time with Art Blakey and Tony Williams, and learned to bring younger musicians to the bandstand from them.
Wallace's sound was strikingly similar to that of Davis, but in time he became known for his own style, sound and compositions. He recorded more than twenty albums as a band leader, often with his then-wife pianist Geri Allen and brother saxophonist Antoine Roney.
In the past few years, he worked extensively, and not always successfully, to bring Wayne Shorter's "Universe" to the public. That work, written for Miles but never recorded by him, was performed in a number of high profile concerts, but the recording of it remains unfortunately unreleased.
I was pleased to call Wallace a friend, and he made several appearances on Straight No Chaser. His final visit came in September 2019,, talking about his final release Blue Dawn Blue Nights. We emailed a few weeks ago, and now he is gone.
But his music will live on forever, and Podcast 739 is a selection of some of my favorite tunes he recorded as a band leader or sideman. They include:
Wallace Roney - "Opus One Point Five"
Wallace Roney - "Children of the Light"
Wallace Roney - "Elegy"
Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and Wallace Roney - "So What" (live)
Wallace Roney - "The Pharoah"
Chick Corea & Friends - "Bud Powell"
Wallace Roney - "Wolfbane"
Wallace Roney Quintet - "Geri"
Wallace Roney - "I Will Always Love You"