Wallace Roney, Blue Dawn – Blue Nights, HighNote ***
If you are looking for a uniquely plaintive quality in trumpet quest no further than ‘Why Should There Be Stars’ the runaway success among all these very tasteful tracks.
Roney has delivered one of his best albums in a long while and yet… sometimes a three-star album which this is nonetheless is more than enough and yet frustrating.
While it is not going to change the world it may just change your day. You can feel the limits: but maybe great artistry (and Roney has shown that for many years) is about knowing what you can do and doing it. The rest is just conversation.
Roney needs a new producer like someone who would argue with him and he would accept the word!
Anyway Blue Dawn Blue Nights however is very poignant, there is a lot of personal sadness to reflect, and often it is quite moving.
Listen you need to be able to work out that you are coming to Roney for a subtle musical personality whose sound lands at the heart of modal Milesian jazz. After all he quite comfortably fell into the Milesian world at first hand and stood in for Miles towards the end of the Picasso of Cool’s life.
Roney has made approaching a couple of dozen records. Quite a few blur into one and yet you know exactly why you listen to him and go to hear him live. Last time I saw him it was slightly bizarre: who wears sunglasses inside anyway when the stage lights are not even that bright! And yet I for one did not want to go home.
There is a Roney world. His persona invades you. A club player not a big hall player ideally even if most musicians want to play to the biggest audiences imaginable for good career reasons it is not always ideal for most and Roney needs you to be there in a space where people do not get lost in themselves and the architecture.
Here with an accomplished if necessarily anonymous band, saxophonist Emilio Modeste, pianist Oscar Williams II, bassist Paul Cuffari, and his teenage nephew, certainly a talent drummer Kojo Odu Roney + cameos from guitarist Quintin Zoto and the great Lenny White. Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in New Jersey it sounds right from an engineering point of view. Roney soars.