Wallace Roney: a legend leaves us
Commended by Miles Davis at the start of the 1990s, the great American trumpeter succumbs to the Covid-19 coronavirus.
"I never get tired of the comparisons to Miles – I get tired of the critics trying to make it into a negative. Because to me, it’s no comparison. Miles Davis is the greatest ever. What I’m trying to do is continue and push forward from the lessons I learned from him and try to play this music." This was the modus operandi of Wallace Roney, the unfalteringly classy American trumpeter who passed away on 31st March at the age of just 59.
In the mid-1980s, his youthful and virtuose trumpet fascinated post-bop fans. So much so that a certain Miles Davis praised him and even took him on stage with him in Montreux in 1991! Three years after the master's death, Davis' faithful followers - Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams - even offered Roney the chance to be the trumpeter on the tribute album A Tribute to Miles (1994).
The ex-husband of the pianist Geri Allen who died in 2017, the Philadelphia native would nevertheless carve his own musical identity despite Miles' huge legacy. With around twenty albums to his name as the leader, and featuring as a sideman for artists such as Art Blakey, Kenny Baron, Chick Corea, Joey DeFrancesco, Dizzy Gillespie, Helen Merrill and Tony Williams, Wallace Roney was a staunch defender of the impeccable marriage between hard bop and post-bop. Superbly classy.