Wallace Roney: Jazz (2007)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Even as Jazz is a tribute to Roney's mentors Art Blakey, Miles Davis and Tony Williams, it is much more. The musical flavors here cover a spectrum of jazz feeling, everything from bop to fusion to funk and other local stops. "Vater Time," the set's jump-right-in opener, is a Roney tune that moves from a funky intro to a swinging trumpet solo with Miles alum Robert Irving III lending muscular piano support; Roney's brother Antoine on tenor sax stokes matters further.
A pair of Antoine tunes, "Children of Light and "Nia," share a predisposition for rather otherworldly sounds. The former begins spookily with Roney's trumpet and then is joined by Antoine's soprano sax. It is rhythmically engaging even as the sound becomes increasingly dense via Geri Allen's shining keyboard textures. "Nia is a dreamier piece on which Allen's keyboard is overlaid by the purity of trumpet and soprano sax. In tandem their sound is precise without ever becoming mannered.
Further enrichment comes from Val Jeanty's turntable, providing samples and electronic beats on Roney's "Revolution: Resolution ; this is one of several tracks which feature both Allen and Irving on keyboards. We're into territory that is at once mysterious and alluring as the Brothers Roney revel in a call-and-response motif.
Bud Powell's "Un Poco Loco closes the set. Roney runs up and down the scales with a dazzlingly light, bright heat matched by Allen at the keyboard and Eric Allen's drumming. The latter lends an unflaggingly propulsive energy that will be familiar to those who have followed Roney's recordings through the years. There is a bond of shared music experience that runs through this album, saluting where jazz has been even as it points to what's coming.
Track Listing: Vater Time; Children of the Light; Inflorescent; Fela's Shrine; Revolution: Resolution; Her Story; Stand; Un Poco Loco.
Personnel: Wallace Roney: trumpet; Antoine Roney: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Geri Allen: piano, keyboards (2, 3, 5-9); Robert Irving III: keyboards, Fender Rhodes (1, 4, 6, 8); Rashaan Carter: bass; Eric Allen: drums; DJ Axum: turntables (1, 4); Val Jeanty: turntables (5, 6, 8).
Record Label: HighNote Records