By: Phil Freeman, Stereogum
Wallace Roney, Blue Dawn – Blue Nights (HighNote)
Trumpeter Wallace Roney is probably best known for being Miles Davis’ backup player when the older man revived his orchestral material at the Montreux Jazz Festival in the late ’80s. That’s too bad, because he’s a strong, individual player who’s made almost two dozen albums as a leader. On his latest release, he’s doing something like what Miles once did, serving as a patron and supporter of younger players. His band on Blue Dawn – Blue Nights includes 18-year-old tenor saxophonist Emilio Modeste, 31-year-old pianist Oscar Williams II, 20-year-old bassist Paul Cuffari, and his 15-year-old nephew Kojo Odu Roney on drums. “New Breed,” written by saxophonist Dave Liebman, is an abstracted post-bop tune not unlike something Davis would have played with his 1965-68 quintet. Roney’s muted horn has a sharp, thin sound that stabs at the melody like an ice pick, as Cuffari and Kojo Roney drive him forward with gentle but insistent force.