Today is the great Miles Davis‘ birthday. He shares his birthday with the only trumpet player that he ever mentored Wallace Roney. Wallace was born in Philadelphia in 1960 So he is too young to have experienced 1960, which was the year that former Whiz Kids manager re Eddie Sawyer resigned as the hapless Phillies’ manager after a 9-4 opening day loss to the Reds and said.: “I’m 49 years old and I want to live to be 50.” But I digress so it’s back to Wallace.
It was discovered when he was 4 years old that Wallace had perfect pitch (which the Phillies didin’t have as they choked in the clutch and lost the pennant to the Cards- sorry). After beginning his musical studies at Philadelphia School of Music, by the time he turned 7 he was studying with Sigmund Herring of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He studied with Herring until Herring’s death in 1980. Along the way Clark Terry and Dizzy Gillespie provided young Wallace instructions.
From 1985 until his passing in 1991 Miles Davis was Wallace’s music instructor, mentor and friend helping to challenge and shape Wallace’s creative approach to life. In 1979 and again in 1980, Wallace Roney won the Down Beat Award for Best Young Jazz Musician of the Year. In 1989, and again in 1990, Wallace won Down Beat Magazine’s Critic’s Poll for Best Trumpeter to Watch.
In his career as a leader, which started in 1987, Wallace has released 18 albums. He has also served as a sideman on 6 albums, recording with such greats as Art Blakey (replacing Terrence Blanchard), Dizzy Gillespie and Tony Williams. He has also been an important member of the following musician’s bands: Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Walter Davis Jr., Herbie Hancock, Jay McShann, David Murray, McCoy Tyner, and been a featured soloist with Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Curtis Fuller, Carole King, and Joni Mitchell
And to think that I missed all that and only discovered Wallace’s music a few months ago! What a putz I am! So in an effort to start catching up, since his latest release Understanding is not on either Spotify or Mog. I went to AllMusic to see which of the albums Spotify did have were the best. It seemed that just about all the albums had a four-star rating, so I went with the oldest album available, Misterios released in 1994. I made that album the soundtrack on the drive down to babysit my grandson, Oliver, this afternoon and evening! Now it probably not the best road trip album, because it is mostly ballads. AllMusic labels the album’s moods as dreamy, yearning and sentimental. But while the album didn’t perk me up, it did make for a very relaxing drive!
The album contains a variety of ballads from the likes of Lennon & McCartney, Dolly Parton, Egberto Gismonti, Jaco Pastorius and Pat Metheny. The album is dominated by Wallace’s great sounding trumpet and arranger Geri Allen’s, (who does a great job by the way with the arrangements, in this no nothing’s opinion anyway) piano. Occasionally, some great drumming can be heard, provided by Eric Allen, and some tenor sax from Antoine Roney, along with a variety of strings on a few tracks. Overall, it was a great introduction to Wallace’s music, which I hope to explore in more depth, as I continue my jazz education!!
So turn the lights down low, oh before that let’s wish Wallace a happy 54th birthday!! and enjoy Pat Metheny;s “In Her Family” from the album Misterios….