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...

15

Wallace Roney and His Mission to Record and Perform Wayne Shorter's Long-Lost "Universe"

R.J. DeLuke By

Sign in to view read count
It's like the Holy Grail of music that was written specifically for Miles and that band. —Wallace Roney
Wayne Shorter is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest composers in the history of jazz, which is the history of American music. His compositions are played by instrumentalists in cramped and crowded nightclubs wherever on earth jazz music is performed. It's hard to imagine a jazz festival where at least few of his works don't cascade upon the ears at some point. Vocalists have added lyrics to some of his songs so they, too, can get involved in their interpretation.

"He's an absolute jazz master, one of the greatest composers in jazz and, in my opinion, in modern music," says Joshua Redman, who has made his own mark as one of the finest saxophonists of his generation.

Shorter is prolific. He writes often and in different forms. He has pieces of music written many years ago that he occasionally gets back to and brings out in some fashion. "Finishes" isn't really a term he prefers. "When people say something is finished, that's like a consensus," he says, proudly. "That's just an opinion. 'That's the end of that song.' No. the song's just sitting there. That's not a law."

Lately, there is some special music sitting in Shorter's vault that is finding its way out, albeit slowly, to be finally heard. It's being done by the extraordinary trumpet player Wallace Roney, who obtained the music in 2012 from Shorter, his close friend. Until about a year ago, when Roney formed a band that played it in concert, all but one piece had never been performed before.

These are extended scores for 23 musicians, written around 1968 by Shorter specifically for Miles Davis to play with his great quintet of that time, Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams at the core.

"I've got to get it out there so people can hear it," says Roney. "It's like the Holy Grail of music that was written specifically for Miles and that band."

But Roney met resistance all throughout 2013 and is still baffled at the situation. His goal in 2014 is to get the music heard more live, and also get into a studio to document it "because the music demands it. That's important to be said. The music demands it. Not for any other goal except that the music demands to be recorded and put out there."

There are five extended pieces, "Legends," "Universe," "Twin Dragon," "Utopia" and "5/4." Roney struggled to get opportunities for the music to be played. He had some rehearsals, but no one was willing to book a performance. But in January of 2013 he finally got a chance to play publicly at a club called Drom in New York City. "Nobody got paid, because they weren't paying anything," says Roney. "It was a showcase. Everybody came out and there was a buzz all over the place for a moment. Because the music was that great," but nothing happened. A few months later, in a May conversation, Roney was still scratching his head. "I can't get nobody. Let me give you a capital N, capital O, capital B, capital O, capital D, capital Y. NOBODY. They're interested when they first hear. But I've gotten resistance so much it's incredible. You've got to be kidding me. No one wants to hear this? It's like when I was with VSOP and nobody would book us. It's the same thing."

Roney says the VSOP band that toured as a tribute to Davis in 1991' with Roney on trumpet along side Williams, Carter, Hancock and Shorter ("the greatest band I ever played in in my entire life. Period"), had trouble getting booked in the United States.

In July, Roney was able to get the music into the Jazz Standard in New York City. Trumpeter David Weiss conducted the orchestra, which contained flutes, French and English horns and bassoon, plus violin, clarinet and two bass clarinets along with standard instrumentation." Man, it levitated," he says in December. "It felt like the whole room was levitating. It was amazing. After they let us do it, they were supportive of us. They felt it as well."

Still, he notes "We've been having a hard time. People are passing on it. The record companies are passing on it. I haven't given up. I've dedicated [2014] to getting this music out there and performed... We're trying to get it into art houses and concert places. Even some prestigious clubs would be nice too."

There is one concert slated so far, January 9 at at the Poisson Rouge as part of Winter Jazzfest presents SummerStage/Charlie Parker Jazzfest Showcase.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Understanding

Understanding

HighNote Records
2013

buy
 

Home

Muse Records
2012

buy
If Only for One Night

If Only for One Night

HighNote Records
2010

buy
Jazz

Jazz

HighNote Records
2008

buy
Jazz

Jazz

HighNote Records
2007

buy
Mystikal

Mystikal

HighNote Records
2005

buy
Date Detail Price
Dec29Sat
10:00 pm
Wallace Roney Quintet
Scullers Jazz Club
Boston, MA
Dec29Sat
8:00 pm
Wallace Roney Quintet
Scullers Jazz Club
Boston, MA
Feb11Mon
10:30 pm
WALLACE RONEY QUINTET
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00
Feb11Mon
8:00 pm
WALLACE RONEY QUINTET
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00
Feb18Mon
10:30 pm
WALLACE RONEY QUINTET
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00
Feb18Mon
8:00 pm
WALLACE RONEY QUINTET
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00
Feb25Mon
10:30 pm
WALLACE RONEY QUINTET
Blue Note New York
New York, NY
$20.00

Related Articles

Read A Conversation with Music Author Alan Light Interviews
A Conversation with Music Author Alan Light
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Michael League: Snarky Puppy's Jazz-Schooled, Grassroots Visionary Interviews
Michael League: Snarky Puppy's Jazz-Schooled,...
by Mike Jacobs
Published: December 10, 2018
Read Conor Murray & Micheal Murray: Putting Falcarragh On The Jazz Map Interviews
Conor Murray & Micheal Murray: Putting Falcarragh On...
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 29, 2018
Read Pete McCann: Mild-Mannered Superhero Guitarist Interviews
Pete McCann: Mild-Mannered Superhero Guitarist
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 28, 2018
Read Kris Funn: Bass Player, Story Teller Interviews
Kris Funn: Bass Player, Story Teller
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: November 27, 2018
Read Phillip Johnston: Back From Down Under Interviews
Phillip Johnston: Back From Down Under
by Ken Dryden
Published: November 27, 2018
Read "Dave Ledbetter: Diversity and Unity" Interviews Dave Ledbetter: Diversity and Unity
by Seton Hawkins
Published: August 15, 2018
Read "Nicky Schrire: Permission to Be Yourself" Interviews Nicky Schrire: Permission to Be Yourself
by Seton Hawkins
Published: July 9, 2018
Read "Linley Hamilton: Strings Attached" Interviews Linley Hamilton: Strings Attached
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 17, 2018
Read "Helle Henning: Nordic Sounds" Interviews Helle Henning: Nordic Sounds
by Suzanne Lorge
Published: February 14, 2018
Read "A Conversation with Music Author Alan Light" Interviews A Conversation with Music Author Alan Light
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 16, 2018