The Artistry of… Wallace Roney

We recently lost this giant, at a moment in time when it felt like giants were falling. He became a giant who stood on the shoulders of giants.

This passage from his bio sums up the greatness of his artistry: “He was one of the few musicians in his generation who learned and perfected his craft directly from alliances with jazz masters. But his most important and meaningful relationship was with Miles Davis.” The sound you hear when you listen to Wallace Roney, in performance or as recorded, is liberation. It establishes a freedom of expression that speaks directly to the best of jazz. There is a clarity of creative focus and intent.

Accolades followed him wherever he went; they played and will continue to be a part of his legacy. The writer James McBride describes the Philadelphia-born trumpeter in a sentimental passage that conjures an image that captures the late Roney’s reverence and sensitivity and deserved respect of his peers: “His head is bowed slightly, giving him an edgy, pensive, shy look. Yet as he rises to walk toward the stage, moving like a shadow, the other horn players — trumpeters and saxmen lined against the wall waiting to blow — part respectfully to let him pass. They know who he is.” We know who he will always be.

The Artistry of… is a weekly series that reflects on the passion and essence of an artist. It airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.