Wallace Roney: No Room for Argument
Wallace Roney strives to expand the terrain of straight-ahead jazz on this fairly experimental release. In addition to his solid trumpet playing, pianist Geri Allen’s creative fingerprints are all over the session, spanning from acoustic to Rhodes and synthesizers. Keyboardist Adam Holzman augments the atmospherics with Wurlitzer, organ, and synths on many of the tracks. In the rhythm section are bassist Buster Williams and drummer Lenny White, both of whom, with Geri Allen, comprise two-thirds of the current Buster Williams Quartet. Saxophonists Steve Hall and Antoine Roney complete the acoustic lineup, and Val "Gelder" Jeanty spices up four cuts with sample programming.
There’s a strong improvisational rapport on these tracks, all of which are by Roney except the straight-ahead ballad "Christina," by Buster Williams. But Roney’s forays into electronica, most evidently on the opening title track, don’t add up to much. Voiceover samples from civil rights figures (and Deepak Chopra[?!]) are laced through this and "Straight No Nothing," but they come across more as sonic filler than substantial content. Aside from "NeuBeings," which paints a compelling picture over the course of its 10 minutes, much of the rest of the album sounds like a pastiche of Miles Davis references. It starts with "Homage & Acknowledgement," a fairly interesting superimposition of "Filles De Kilimanjaro" over the bass line of "A Love Supreme." But "Metropolis" almost literally could have been on Nefertiti or The Sorceror, "Cygroove" on Bitches Brew. The closing 3/4 ballad "Midnight Blue" is good, and rather more original. But after the monotony of "He Who Knows" and "Virtual Chocolate Cherry," it’s not enough to make the album a surefire winner.
Despite his considerable chops and his superb band, Roney still can’t escape his tendency toward Miles mimicry, and this stunts the creative thrust of the album overall.
Track Listing: 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
Personnel: Wallace Roney, trumpet; Steve Hall, tenor and soprano saxophone and bass clarinet (2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9); Antoine Roney, tenor and soprano saxophone and bass clarinet (2, 5, 6, 8, 10); Geri Allen, piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizer; Adam Holzman, Wurlitzer, organ, mini-moog, synthesizers; Buster Williams, bass; Lenny White, drums; Val "Gelder" Jeanty, sample programmer (1, 2, 3), additional drums track 1