Wallace Roney


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Upon first listen to trumpeter Wallace Roney's Mystikal one might be inclined to marginalize it as yet another attempt to re-create '70s-era Miles Davis. This would be a mistake. While Roney has always owed a large debt to the iconic jazz innovator -- he even played with Davis on a concert released as Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux -- Mystikal is a modern album made up of vintage parts. Which is to say that while Roney has deep affection for the sounds of '60s jazz and '70s funk and fusion, he is a resolutely forward-thinking musician who borrows from a variety of sources and time periods even when the overall sound is funky. Featuring his longtime working band including pianist Geri Allen, brother saxophonist Antoine Roney, keyboardist Adam Holzman, bassist Matt Garrison, drummer Eric Allen, percussionist Bobby Thomas, Jr., and turntablist Val Jeanty, Roney has largely crafted a sister album to 2004's similarly minded Prototype. Like that album, Mystikal is in many ways a standard jazz album with some original compositions, a cover of a standard, and a lesser known piece by a well-known artist. This time around that artist is Wayne Shorter, whose "Atlantis" kicks off the album. An expansive and creepily funky piece off Shorter's underrated 1985 album of the same name, Roney turns the song into a moody mix of Miles in the Sky-esque post-bop, '80s hip-hop, and new age atmospherics. Similarly engaging is his melancholy cover of the Temptations classic "Just My Imagination," which draws out the deeper, more sanguine harmonics of the song even while it perfectly embodies the innocent romance of the original. Interestingly, Roney makes room for some straight-ahead but no less adventurous stuff here covering trumpeter Kenny Dorham's jaunty "Poetic" as well as ending with pianist Bud Powell's gorgeous ballad "I'll Keep Loving You." Roney's own compositions do not disappoint either with the hard funk of "Stargaze" and the elegiac "Baby's Breath" displaying the trumpeter's deft creative vision.

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