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Wallace Roney Premieres Wayne Shorter’s Long-Lost “Universe”

Trumpeter’s orchestra gives revelatory performances at NYC’s Jazz Standard

David Weiss (left, conducting orchestra) and trumpeter Wallace Roney premiere long-lost Wayne Shorter music at NYC’s Jazz Standard, July 2013 (photo: Alan Nahigian)

On the fourth and last disc of the Columbia/Legacy box set Miles Davis & Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings, there are four takes of a semi-surreal Gil Evans composition called “Falling Water.” David Weiss, accomplished trumpeter and arranger, drew my attention to this 1968 obscurity during a break at Jazz Standard in New York, where he’d just conducted the 23-piece Wallace Roney Orchestra in a revelatory performance.

The band’s mission during this four-night run was to premiere Wayne Shorter’s “Universe,” a long-form work written for the hallowed late-1960s Miles Davis Quintet (plus orchestra) but never played. In fact, Roney’s second Thursday set (July 27) featured no fewer than three unknown Shorter compositions: “Legend” and “Universe” from the same time period, plus “Twin Dragon” from 1981, also written with Miles Davis in mind. (No titles were announced from the stage.)

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