Blowing His Own Horn
On the phone from his Manhattan office, jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney sounds dubious about the interview from the start, as if he's been through this a few too many times already and knows well enough that there's no way that what he does for a living, which is play music, is going to gain any expression through a brief telephone conversation with some schmo in Houston. He's not ungracious, he's just not expansive, and it's hard to blame him, especially since the reporter keeps asking him all these questions not about Roney, but Miles Davis.
To look at Roney on paper, after all, is to look at Miles Davis, with whom Roney's career has been tied in the popular mind. Roney played live with Davis at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1991, contributed to the Re-Birth of the Cool Davis tribute album and toured on Herbie Hancock's Tribute to Miles Tour and album. According to legend, Davis once told Roney in a fit of mutual congratulation that, "If I ever play straight-ahead music again, I'm going to play just like you, because you play all my stuff perfectly."
Heady stuff from the master to the disciple, but Roney has little patience for questions about stepping out from the legend's shadow. "Miles taught me to play trumpet," he says, simply enough, and Roney makes no apologies for learning. Besides, he's got six albums with his own name on them, and his latest release, Misterios, is on Warner Brothers, making Roney, alongside saxophonist Joshua Redman, one of the hottest young properties in jazz.
Roney doesn't discount the Davis influence, and you can hear it plainly in Roney's tone and on the album's Brazilian-esque update of Davis' own Quiet Nights album of some 30 years back. But Roney's no slavish imitator, and his quintet, including brother Antoine on tenor sax, lights its own blue flames.
-- Brad Tyer
The Wallace Roney Quintet plays at 8 p.m., Thursday, January 12 at Rockefeller's. Tickets cost $10 and $12.50. Call 869-3231 for info.
Sammy Kershaw at the Houston Arena Theatre, Friday, January 13
El Vez at Fitzgerald's, Friday, January 13
Brave Combo at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, Saturday, January 14
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