The trumpeter, composer, and bandleader Wallace Roney died yesterday in hospital in New Jersey at the age of 59 through complications incurred by contracting COVID-19. Roney was one of the biggest names in US jazz enduringly, an icon known globally for his classic Miles Davis-esque sound and sense of classic style.
Roney became a jazz icon from the early-1990s when he stepped in to play with Miles Davis during the latter part of the trumpeter's life.
Born in Philadelphia he attended Howard University and Berklee College of Music in Boston. While taking part in a tribute to Miles Davis at the Bottom Line in Manhattan in the early-1980s he met Miles who gave him a trumpet.
In 1986 he succeeded Terence Blanchard in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and in both the late-1980s and early-1990s was a member of the Tony Williams quintet.
Just months before Miles' death Roney played with him at the famous Miles and Quincy Montreux Jazz Festival concert and toured with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Williams after Miles' death in memoriam to him. Their album, A Tribute to Miles, won a Grammy.
As a leader Wallace debuted for Muse with Verses in 1987. Last year his album Blue Dawn-Blue Nights was released and it was still abundantly clear how uniquely plaintive the quality of his playing remained on ‘Why Should There Be Stars’ the runaway success among all those very tasteful tracks, a very poignant, album reflective of a subtle musical personality whose sound landed at the heart of modal Milesian jazz.