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A worthy successor to Miles
shows his wares

Wallace Roney's album

Wallace Roney:
No Room for Argument
Concord Jazz
(from Music Gallery India
Bangalore 560 001
Rs 600

Most of the ten pieces are Roney's compositions, fast-paced and exciting, but not aggressive and loud

One might be forgiven for judging this album by its cover - showing Roney in a leather jacket - and the rap vocal in the background of some tracks and expecting it to turn out to be aggressive and loud, even violent, jazz-rock. In fact there is some jazz-rock thrown in, but surprisingly not enough to greatly undermine the sense of marvellous mainstream jazz Roney's trumpet creates. As for the rap, careful listening reveals that the words - even those of the dogmatic-sounding title song - are far from aggressive. They are in fact meant to promote an agenda of interreligious tolerance, peace and harmony, even if, with their softness, they are ineffective behind the foreground of the music.

Roney is a youngish trumpeter who first came to prominence in the early '90s when he took the late Miles Davis's role for the album A Tribute to Miles by Davis's former buddies Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and Ron Carter. He has a fluent style marked by a muted trumpet and the deliberate use of delicately timed silences between notes, two features that make for an uncanny resemblance to Davis.

That was a mainstream jazz album, but in this album recorded in April 2000, Roney shows, again like Davis, an openness to experimenting with the electronic instruments and, occasionally, loud beats of jazz-rock. His support here includes his seniors Lenny White on drums and Buster Williams on bass, as well as the up-and-coming Geri Allen on piano/ electric piano, Adam Holzman on electric piano/ electric organ, and Antoine Roney and Steve Hall on tenor and soprano saxes and bass clarinet. No room for argument (the title track), Cygroove and Virtual chocolate cherry show the rock influence most strongly in the drumming and the last two also have some electronic gimmickry with the electric keyboard instruments. Roney's trumpet sound soars over these irritants, and he also has plenty of support from piano, tenor sax and bass solos to gladden the hearts of mainstream jazz buffs. On the other tracks too, good soloing is very much in evidence from all these instruments, helped along by more orthodox jazz drumming.

Most of the ten pieces are Roney's compositions, fast-paced and exciting, but Homage and acknowledgement is a medley of Miles Davis's Filles de Kilimanjaro and John Coltrane's A love supreme reworked into a smooth blend with a brisk pace, but also haunting. The only slow number is Buster Williams's composition Christina, with the composer himself playing a supporting role to the exquisite trumpet, tenor sax and keyboard.


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