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Wallace Roney: Mystikal

Ernest Barteldes By

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This amazing trumpet player blends the bebop tendencies of the Parker/Dizzy era with the more contemporary Miles Davis jazz-fusion sound, and he's one of few leaders to include a turntable player in his band.

In fact, it was the work of turntablist Val Jeanty that most impressed at Roney's recent appearance at Joe's Pub on September 30. She complemented the band's sound with several effects, such as spacey sounds and spoken word samples. This instrument, mostly connected to the realm of hip-hop, seemed to fit into the group seamlessly.

The band started out with some problems with the sound equipment, but seemed unfazed as it breezed through the first number, a mix of post bop improvisation and rock-inflected moments. Saxophonist Antoine Roney (Wallace's brother) did an amazing job on stage; he played the more complicated solos, and the audience and band seemed completely absorbed by what he was doing.

On the album, the band takes a more funky direction—songs like "Stargaze have a more electric feel than they did in the live setting (bassist Matt Garrison plays electric on this track), and Jeanty's touches seem less subtle. Also very enjoyable is the cover of the Barrett Strong/Norman Whitfield tune "Just My Imagination, which takes an '80s Miles Davis direction.

Wayne Shorter's "Atlantis sets the mood for the entire album. As the the two Roneys lead the song with a bebop feel, other players go more modern, Adam Holzman filling in with weird synthesizer sounds complemented by Jeanty's work on the turntables, while Garrison and drummer Eric Allen keep the basic beat.

Pay attention to the collaborations with pianist Geri Allen (Roney's wife): "Baby's Breath and "Nice Town. Notice how their chemistry works on the beautiful Bud Powell romantic ballad "I'll Keep Loving You, a duo feature. Allen provides a full but subtle accompaniment to Roney's heartfelt solos, and the combination sounds as if they are declaring their undying love for each other after more than twenty years.

Track Listing: Atlantis; Mystikal; Stargaze; Just My Imagination; Hey Young World; Poetic; Baby's Breath; NiceTown; I'll Keep Loving You.

Personnel: Wallace Roney: trumpet; Antoine Roney: soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet; Geri Allen: piano, fender rhodes, keyboards; Adam Holzman: keyboards, fender rhodes; Matt Garrison: acoustic and electric bass; Eric Allen: drums; Bobby Thomas, Jr.: percussion; Val Jeanty: turntables.

Title: Mystikal | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: HighNote Records

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