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Album Review

There is no irony to be found in the title Wallace Roney chose for his 14th studio album. The title is a statement. This album is most assuredly jazz, despite the presence of turntablists (DJ Axum appears for the second straight album, joined by Val Jeanty), occasional tangents into electronic downtempo, and 21-year-old bassist Rashaan Carter's teaming with drummer Eric Allen to lay down some of the thickest grooves this side of hip-hop. The bass doesn't walk all that much (which isn't to say that Carter's debut is anything short of outstanding) and you won't find much swing-era swinging or obsessions with '60s bop. That's a good thing. Jazz is 21st century jazz by a weathered, seasoned, and credentialed 20-year vet. Unlike many contemporary musicians, Roney (the same trumpeter faultily plagued by Miles Davis-clone assassinations) is not stuck in the past. Instead, he makes music that is an ode to the past, music one wouldn't mistake as straight-ahead jazz, although it does stare and venture straight ahead. On "Stand," Roney's reprise of the Sly Stone classic, Jeanty scratches in the chant "break the rules." Jazz, however, sounds less like rebellion and more like invention. For the past three LPs — Jazz, Prototype (2004), and Mystikal (2005) — Roney and his trusted companions (pianist and wife Geri Allen, saxophonist and brother Antoine Roney) have collaborated to produce music the opposite of static. There is nothing static about tunes like Carter's urban and brooding "Fela's Shrine" that begins with a world vibe and morphs into street-corner jazz and Roney's "Revolution: Resolution," which travels through esoteric (in jazz terms) techno to the song's bellicose theme. These are jazz songs that couldn't have been created until now, contemporary in a fundamental (but not commercial) way. The older, purist crowd may either scoff or trivialize this album, which is actually expected. Jazz points to the new direction of jazz, and not everyone has to or will follow.

Biography

Born: 25 May 1960 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Wallace Roney's dilemma recalls that of Sonny Stitt in the '50s and '60s: his trumpet tone, timbre, approach, phrasing, and sound so closely mirror that of Miles Davis in his pre-jazz/rock phase that he's been savaged in many places for being a clone and unrepentant imitator. Stitt stopped playing alto for years because of his disdain for being labeled a Charlie Parker clone; Roney, on the other hand, played many of Miles Davis' parts on the 1992 tribute to the Birth of the Cool sessions, which was...
Full bio
Jazz, Wallace Roney
View In iTunes
  • £7.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Fusion
  • Released: 31 July 2007

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