All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

168

Wallace Roney: Mystikal

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
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.

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

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Between the Silence CD/LP/Track Review
Between the Silence
by John Kelman
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Flying CD/LP/Track Review
Flying
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Barxeta II CD/LP/Track Review
Barxeta II
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Vidas Simples CD/LP/Track Review
Vidas Simples
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Kinship CD/LP/Track Review
Kinship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2018
Read Ask For Chaos CD/LP/Track Review
Ask For Chaos
by Gareth Thompson
Published: August 18, 2018
Read "Glass" CD/LP/Track Review Glass
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 10, 2018
Read "Lucille" CD/LP/Track Review Lucille
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "The Ultimate Experience" CD/LP/Track Review The Ultimate Experience
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "Piano Images" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Images
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 12, 2018
Read "Cubafonía" CD/LP/Track Review Cubafonía
by Matt Hooke
Published: December 26, 2017
Read "Parting Is" CD/LP/Track Review Parting Is
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 14, 2018