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March 2005

Wallace Roney
Prototype
HighNote Records

Wallace Roney's Prototype marks the trumpeter's debut for HighNote after a series of mid-'90s albums for Warner Bros. whose productions were apparently fraught with arguments and compromises. The mood and scope of the writing makes you wonder why the Warners brass didn't trust the trumpet player and leave him to his own devices. On the other hand, Prototype has a definite modern feel, fastening 1960s Miles Davis ambience to modern R&B and technology. Roney and his tenor and soprano playing brother Antoine creating stunning solos on the driving "Then and Now" and funky-but-ominous "Cyberspace." Don Byron's bass clarinet and Clifton Anderson's trombone add to the sinister 6/8 groove of "Shadow Dance." The title track, originally recorded by OutKast's Andre 3000, and Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" become slow, sensual ballads in Roney's hands. DJ Logic's turntables pop up in three songs adding extra texture without getting in the way, in the same way that Adam Holzman's overly synthetic keyboard washes never take away from the strength of the album. Maybe now jaded listeners will look beyond Roney's association with Miles Davis and appreciate him for his own ideas.

Originally published in March 2005
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