Showing posts with label Wallace Roney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wallace Roney. Show all posts

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Miles Davis Tribute Worth Keeping

A Tribute to Miles Davis--
Wallace Roney(trumpet), 
Herbie Hancock(keyboards), 
Tony Williams(drums), 
Wayne Shorter(reeds), 
Ron Carter(bass)
You need to bear in mind that this isn't a dusty museum exhibition where the music of the late trumpeter and bandleader is dutifully eviscerated and mounted on a pedestal. Quite the opposite, as Davis alum Hancock, Shorter, Carter and Williams, along with firebrand trumpeter Wallace Roney perform a number of familiar tunes with vigor and intensity. Mere reverence is replaced with passion and a willingness to stir things up. Roney, in particular, is a wonder and an inspired choice to fill the trumpet position; he has a hard-core virtuosity that rivals Freddie Hubbard, and yet retains a sublimely modulated, vibrato-less tone, clean and pristine. His register-jumping flurries on the live version of "So What" or the delicately etched readings are remarkable examples of pace and phrasing. For an instrument known for its uniformly declarative, sound, with the notes, as executed by the most superlative of players, sounding sharp, full, hard bits of color sculpting whole structures of sound from the metaphorical block of granite. Roney,though, had something else, the rarest of thing in jazz trumpet, the ability to make his extemporaneous statements fluid,one note flowing out of the one before it and into the one that follows in a deceptively easy legato that made you think of the accelerated fluidity of saxophonist John Coltrane. Roney, I'd wager , is the obverse of Hubbard; in my life I've witnessed the glory of two of the most compelling jazz trumpet players, one the skyrocketing lyricist, Hubbard, for whom precision and speed were in the mastery of musical ideas that sped by in breath taking forays, and the other and no lesser , Roney, whose virtuosity was in the service of seemingly unlimited ideas of restatement, reconfiguration, and reimagining of a composer's written score. 

And, square as it may sound, it's always great to have Hancock et al return from their wanderings in the fusion wilderness and apply their singular skills on material that requires the best of their improvisational genius. Shorter, for my money, remains the best saxophonist of the post-Coltrane generation, assembling his solos in abstracted sections and deliciously snaky tangents. Williams is, to say nothing else, an astonishing drummer, a continuous rumble of polyrhythms, rising and falling with the many sly turns of this music. Bop, ballads and casually asserted samba rhythms are highlighted with William's strong, graceful stickwork.