168

Wallace Roney: Mystikal

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Wallace Roney: Mystikal We're all the sum of our experiences. Few can say that their lives haven't been influenced in some way by the views or work of others. So when people latch onto the effect that Miles Davis had on trumpeter Wallace Roney, it's fair to ask, "so what?"

Roney hung with Miles during his formative years, and the impact of the experience on his development is something he makes no attempt to cover up. But anyone who has listened to Roney's voice—most notably beginning with '97's Village, where he began to assimilate African rhythms and more electric orchestration, and continuing through last year's fine HighNote debut Prototype—will realize that in some ways Roney is no different than anyone else. His approach may be filtered through myriad influences from Coltrane to Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi group and early Weather Report, but at the end of the day he sounds like nobody but himself.

Mystikal continues Roney's progression. With the same core group as on Prototype—pianist/keyboardist Geri Allen, reed player Antoine Roney, keyboardist Adam Holzman, bassist Matt Garrison, and drummer Eric Allen—it's not just about the evolution of the leader's approach, this time it's also about the evolution of a collective sound.

Roney's approach is becoming increasingly all-inclusive. Two common threads tie together these original pieces, ranging from the rhythmically complex, all-acoustic title track to the more propulsive and electric "Stargaze" and "NiceTown." The thematic conception focuses on breaking down bar lines and creating longer form melodies that float ethereally above the rhythm section; and an open collective approach allows these structured pieces to breathe.

A diverse set of covers mingle with original compositions. The acoustic quartet reading of Kenny Dorham's "Poetic" demonstrates that Roney hasn't completely left his post bop roots behind—as does Bud Powell's ballad "I'll Keep Loving You," a gorgeous duet with Allen that closes the album. Looking to more contemporary sources, a joyously danceable version of rapper Slick Rick's reggae tune "Hey Young World" feels faithful until the end of each phrase, where an ambiguous chord hangs and breaks things up. The Temptations ballad "Just My Imagination" is equally carefree, exposing Roney at his most tender.

Most revealing is the opening track. "Atlantis" retains composer Wayne Shorter's harmonic complexity, but it opens up expansively for Roney's probing solo, which is spare, lyrical, and emotionally to-the-point, without a note wasted. Over the course of Wallace's last four records, brother Antoine has proved his association is all about the playing and has nothing to do with nepotism. The Shorter influence is clear but, as with Wallace, it would be unfairly dismissive to leave it at that. Allen, of course, has her own career; but when she plays with husband Wallace Roney, there's a simpatico that comes from shared life experiences beyond the musical. Garrison is one of today's best young bassists—lithe and virtuosic, yet always keeping his ears open.

As Roney's concept becomes more eclectic, it paradoxically becomes more focused. Mystikal continues his path towards combining past and present—with, most importantly, a clear eye on the future.


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.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: HighNote Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Classic! Live at Newport" CD/LP/Track Review Classic! Live at Newport
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Layers" CD/LP/Track Review Layers
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "Which Craft?" CD/LP/Track Review Which Craft?
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 28, 2016
Read "Suite Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Ellington
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 26, 2016
Read "Further Explorations" CD/LP/Track Review Further Explorations
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 23, 2016
Read "The Havana Sessions" CD/LP/Track Review The Havana Sessions
by James Nadal
Published: June 11, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!