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Roney, Wallace

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 issued in 1993 as Miles Davis and Quincy Jones at Montreaux. Roney even addressed the situation in the publication Jazz Times in 1993, blasting what he saw as unfair critical obsession with his stylistic similarity to Davis. It's a classic no-win situation; he does sound tremendously like Davis and can't be completely absolved from critical charges of imitation. But he's also a fine, evocative player on ballads and can be fiery and explosive on uptempo tunes. Roney put in his stint in one of the last editions of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. He began recording as a leader in the late '80s with several sessions for Muse in primarily a hard bop mode, many pairing him with equally energized saxophonists Gary Thomas or Kenny Garrett. In 2000, Roney took a creative turn toward funk and experimental post-bop with the album No Room for Argument, a direction he has stuck with through several albums, including 2004's Prototype and 2005's Mystikal. However, Roney never fully retreated from straight-ahead jazz and generally incorporates a variety of jazz styles on his albums. This varied approach is represented on such releases as 2007's Jazz, 2010's If Only for One Night, and 2012's Home. In 2013, Roney delivered Understanding, his sixth album for Highnote. ~ Ron Wynn, Rovi
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