Volume 75, Number 18 | September 21 - 27, 2005

Jazz

Wallace Roney Quintet
Friday, Sept. 29, 9:30 p.m.
Joe’s Pub
425 Lafayette Street
(212.254.1263; joespub.com)

Photo by John Abbott

Trumpeter Wallace Roney plays Joe’s Pub this Friday, Sept. 30. His new album, “Mystikal,” is due out next month.

Wallace Roney doesn’t change, he just gets better

By RICK MARX

According to Wallace Roney, change isn’t good. At least not in jazz, where the goal, says the trumpeter, is to improve, practice, and grow.

“How have things changed?” he asks. “Nothing’s changed. If you change, then you’re like a chameleon. Whatever I was doing, it’s gotten better, that the best way to describe it.”

Roney will be bringing his quintet to Joe’s Pub Friday, Sept. 30. The 45-year-old trumpeter, a purveyor of excellent jazz in the tradition of Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, will be playing with a quintet that includes Eric Allen on drums, Adam Holzman on keyboard, Antoine Roney, saxophone, Clarence Seay on bass, and Val Gentry on turntable – “not a d.j.,” Roney advises.

The group, with this basic personnel, has been together five years. “Every time we play, the music is being extended,” Roney says. “I don’t think you give up something to do something else. If you do, that seems like you didn’t like what you were doing before. You add to it.”

Wallace Roney is married to the virtuoso jazz pianist Geri Allen, and the two have played together on several of Roney’s albums, including last year’s “Prototype,” and the upcoming “Mystikal,” due for an October release.

The music, says Roney, is the next step of ideas that the group has been implementing from the beginning with the Wallace Roney quintet.

“It’s like a combination of what Miles would have done if he sat up with Tony Williams’ Lifetime, or Herbie [Hancock], or Bennie Maupin, or J.J. Johnson or Julian [Cannonball Adderley], or Joe [Zawinul], or some of today’s artists. I’m fulfilling that role, and my idea of what that might have felt like, if I played instead of Miles.”

Miles Davis and the jazz greats are only the start of Roney’s influences.

“I listen to some of the guys that are playing now—popular black music—as well as the innovative jazz that’s going on,” he says. “I’m part of that. I’ve got my finger on it I think. But sometimes you want to listen to see that’s happening as well, to add to the music. Not to cop, but you can add it, you can take it further. You can listen to Kanye West. He might be doing nothing but taking what you did and sample it over and over, but you know what, that’s mine, and people are liking that. That happened with Mos Def. He used one of my songs. I hear how his side of the community is listening. I’m not giving up what we do, because what we do is more musically innovative, if not socially.”

But is the jazz establishment not as socially innovative as they were in the past?

“Not jazz per se, but what people say is jazz,” says Roney. What appeals to him is the opportunity to make something the fans at Joe’s Pub appreciate.

“Joe’s Pub is more open than a lot of other venues,” says Roney. “Some of these other places come in with a preconceived notion of what you’re supposed to be doing.

They think the music is a frozen piece of time. We need people to support jazz like it is another art form. We need support to try to push that envelope, however that is.” Just don’t call it change.

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