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Wallace Roney, US jazz trumpeter, dies aged 59

Who was Wallace Roney

Wallace Roney, a Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter celebrated for his interpretations of Miles Davis died after contracting Covid-19 in a hospital in Paterson,New Jersey,where he had been admitted last week.

Roney was born in Philadelphia May 25 1960. He was the son of Wallace Roney, U.S. Marshal and President of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 102, grandson of Philadelphia musician Roosevelt Sherman, and older brother of tenor and soprano saxophonist Antoine Roney.

Wallace begun his musical and trumpet studies age four at Philadelphia’s Settlement School of Music.There he studied with trumpeter Sigmund Hering of the Philadelphia Orchestra, who regularly presented Wallace at recitals at the Settlement School and with the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble during his three years of study. By age 15, Roney had already made his recording debut with Nation and Haki Mahbuti.

Roney entered the Duke Ellington School and while there he worked on various projects with artists like Bill Hardman, Valery Ponomarev, Woody Shaw (who befriended him), Johnny Coles and Freddie Hubbard. At 16,he played with the Cedar Walton Quartet featuring Billy Higgins, Sam Jones, and Philly Joe Jones.

In 1983,he met his idle,Miles David, while taking part in a tribute to him at the Bottom Line in Manhattan,and David gave him one  of his trumpets. In 1986, he received a pair of calls, in the same month, to tour with drummers Tony Williams and Art Blakey, after which Roney became one of the most in-demand trumpet players on the professional circuit.

By 1990,Roney had attained distinction as a gifted performer and had won awards like the 1989 1990, DownBeat Magazine’s Critic’s Poll for Best Trumpeter to Watch,his first DownBeat award being the DownBeat Award for Best young jazz musician 1979-1980. He had also become an integral part of William’s quintet.

In 1991,Roney played with Davis at the Montreux Jazz Festival. After Davis’s death that year,he toured in memoriam with Davis alumni Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams and recorded an album, A Tribute to Miles, for which they won a Grammy Award.

In 1987, Roney recorded his debut album as a leader, Verses, on Muse Records . A number of albums on Muse, Warner Bros. Records and Concord Records/Stretch Records followed, and by 2000, Roney had been documented on over 250 audio recordings. His album titles from the 2000s include Mystikal 2005 and Jazz 2007 on HighNote Records. His two most recent albums are A Place in Time (HighNote 2016) and Blue Dawn – Blue Nights (HighNote 2019),which features his nephew, drummer Kojo Roney.

Roney is survived by  two daughters and one son from his previous marriage with the late pianist Geri Allen, and his fiancee Dawn Felice Jones.



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