Wallace Roney: Village

I have mixed feelings about Roney. For one thing, it’s impossible to review his playing and not mention Miles Davis (and in connection with this album, the writing and playing of Miles’ mid-’60s quintet.) Shouldn’t Roney have his own voice? On the other hand, the trumpeter plays extremely well within the confines of his chosen persona. His soft attack and burnished tone make the notes glow.

This album employs a basic unit of Roney, bassist Clarence Seay and drummer Lenny White, with Chick Corea or Geri Allen on piano, Pharoah Sanders or Michael Brecker and/or Antoine Roney on tenor saxophone (the leader’s brother also plays bass clarinet and soprano), Robert Irving III on synthesizers and Steve Berrios on percussion. Sanders is uncharacteristically undistinguished in his two appearances. Corea and Allen add a splashy, springy abstraction in the rhythm section. Saxophonist Roney’s tenor recalls, appropriately enough, Wayne Shorter, but his soprano is sour and flat.

Cole Porter’s “I Love You” and Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge” are the only familiar tunes. The remainder are originals.

In terms of improvising, Roney and the rhythm section perform admirably. But the nagging portrait of Roney as a Miles imitator lingers.