Like Sonny Stitt with Bird, Paul Quinichette with Prez, and Jon Faddis with Diz, Wallace Roney has been cursed (or blessed) with a tone and style hauntingly similar to a more famous blueprint, in this case Miles Davis. Previously trapped with endless comparisons, Roney is starting to break free by placing himself in musical milieus that Davis never ventured into. On Prototype
, Roney has begun his journey into his own territory.
Shifting gears dramatically from his kinda "blue" period, Roney adds layers of keyboards and brooding reeds as a tonal backdrop to his sweet and yearning solos. With hints of rock rhythm and funkified bass, the band's more electronic songs create an allusion to pre-Jaco Weather Report, yet without sounding dated. Don Byron gives an impassioned, yet dark guest appearance on the mysterious and foreboding "Shadow Dance." Throughout the "electronic" pieces, Roney's crystal clear tone, while inevitably referring to Miles, creates his solos in ways that are all his own. On the cleverly rearranged Al Green classic "Let's Stay Together," Roney and Geri Allen create an autumnal mood that is lusciously seductive. One can feel the trumpet player breaking free from the shackles of contemporary jazz on this master work.
On the "acoustic" pieces, with Allen back on piano, the band yearns and moans through the achingly gorgeous title piece and romps with reckless abandon through the breakneck "Then and Now." The two styles collide quite well during "Three Views of the Blues" as experimental electronic noodlings are intermingled with straight-ahead jazz and down-home greased lightning.
Roney is reaching out, and while he may not have found his oasis on Prototype, he makes the trip quite interesting.
Personnel: Wallace Roney (trumpet); Don Byron (bass clarinet); Antoine Roney (saxophone, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Clifton Anderson (trombone); Adam Holzman (piano, Fender Rhodes piano, keyboards); Geri Allen (piano, Fender Rhodes piano); Matt Garrison (double bass, bass guitar); Eric Allen (drums); DJ Logic (turntables).