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Wallace Roney: Prototype

Russ Musto By

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Prototype is Wallace Roney's latest effort to blaze innovative new trails within the musical territory first explored by Miles Davis. The music that Roney and company put forth is simultaneously visceral and creative—revolutionary, but cognizant of popular tastes. The group—Roney's wife Geri Allen on piano, brother Antoine on saxophones, Davis alumnus Adam Holzman on keyboards, Matt Garrison (son of Jimmy) on basses and Eric Allen on drums—is a cohesive unit that moves seamlessly with its leader through a program of challenging music-in-the-moment that is unafraid to shift phases to modify moods.

On the opening track, Ronnie Burrage's "Cyberspace," Roney adds DJ Logic (with Allen's piano and Holtzman's Fender Rhodes and keyboards) to the mix to create an ethereal soundscape beneath Garrison's prominent electric bass, over which the trumpeter layers dramatically conceived legato lines interwoven with his brother's distinctive soprano solo. On the leader's "Shadow Dance" bass clarinetist Don Byron and trombonist Clifton Anderson augment the group, suggesting the sound of Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi and Prisoner bands. Roney's trumpet sound and compositional style, while clearly Davis influenced, reveal his own harmonic personality and creative insight. He transforms "Prototype," a pop song by Andre Benjamin of the hiphop duo Outkast, into a pleasing straight ahead jazz ballad. Antoine's authoritative tenor is featured on his tune, "Then And Now," an Ornette-inspired piece that shows Coleman's influence as a trumpeter on the leader.

Roney's moving muted trumpet interpretation of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," with Allen on Fender Rhodes, is a tribute to his lyrical improvisational skills, while his own "Quadrant 329-4-526," a techno outing with Logic manning the turntables, searches out new environments for his creative expression. "Three Views Of The Blues," another Roney original, begins with the same Logic electronics as "Quadrant," before moving into a more traditional context, featuring Holzman's organ and Antoine's gutbucket tenor. The concluding "Secret Identity," is a Miles and Trane influenced composition by Holzman, featuring the composer on acoustic piano with the horns blending harmoniously before contributing their own passionate solos over Allen's drums, which evoke the spirit of Elvin Jones. Roney's recent appearance at Iridium with the same group (with Poo Kikuchi replacing Holzman plus Billy "Spaceman" Patterson added on electric guitar), demonstrated the trumpeter's futuristic vision while showing he's still creatively searching for a sound that is all his own.

Track Listing: 1. Cyberspace; 2. Shadow Dance; 3. Prototype; 4. Then And Now; 5. Let's Stay Together; 6. Quadrant; 7. Three Views Of The Blues; 8. Secret Identity.

Personnel: Wallace Roney: trumpet; Antoine Roney: saxophones; Geri Allen: piano; Adam Holzman: keyboards; Matthew Garrison: basses; Eric Allen: drums; Clifton Anderson: trombone; Don Byron: clarinet; DJ Logic.

Title: Prototype | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: HighNote Records

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